Florida Manatee Program
FWC's Manatee Program
The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is a native species found in many of Florida’s waterways. The Florida manatee population has grown to a minimum of 7,520 animals today and as a result, the species was reclassified from an endangered to a threatened species under the federal Endangered Species Act in May, 2017.
Florida manatees are considered one of the state’s keystone species whose behavior can alert researchers to the environmental and habitat changes that may otherwise go unnoticed in Florida’s waterways for extended periods of time. Please browse the manatee program web pages to find out more about this unique imperiled species.
Law Enforcement and Protection
Florida manatees were first protected through Florida State Law in 1893. Manatees are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act (§379.2431(2), Florida Statutes) and are federally protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.
FWC continues to protect and conserve manatees and their habitat through the Manatee Management Plan and programs operated in the Division of Habitat and Species Conservation (Imperiled Species Management Section and Aquatic Habitat Conservation & Restoration Section), the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute, and the Division of Law Enforcement.