Manatees, which were on the U.S. Interior Department's endangered list, have been reclassified as "threatened."

On Thursday, March 30, the herbivorous marine mammals, which consume mostly sea grass, received the status change.

The reclassification of manatees or "sea cows" is fueled by the increase in numbers of the endangered creature.

Earlier in February, it was reported that the number of manatees in Florida was seeing recovery.

Relisting Of Manatees To 'Threatened'

According to the Interior Department, the decision to relist the mammal to "threatened" was taken because of the increase in their numbers.

This rise in number was especially true for the West Indian manatees, who are the residents of the Florida coastline. They can be found across the southeastern United States and the Caribbean basin.

When the creatures were classified under endangered, their numbers were dwindling. Since 1970, from mere hundreds, the numbers of manatees have increased to more than 6,600 in Florida.

What Led To The Recovery

Conservation efforts from environmentalists, the U.S. government, and Caribbean states led to the increase in manatees' numbers.

These measures included the creation of sanctuaries where the creatures were provided with a safe habitat. Speed boats and other fast-moving sea vehicles were also prohibited from exceeding a certain velocity near the manatees' habitat to safeguard them from accidents.

"We consider this a success story. It has been doing very well, it has been coming back," noted Phil Kloer, the spokesperson for the Interior Department's Fish and Wildlife Service.

Based on preliminary results released by the FWC, around 6,620 manatees were seen swimming in the waters, lakes, and lagoons in Florida.

However, according to the Florida state officials, 520 manatees were killed in 2016, out of which 104 died due to speed boat related incidents. 

A team of 15 researchers conducted the survey and recorded 3,488 manatees in the east coast of Florida, and 3,132 manatees on the west coast.

According to the Interior Department, the population of manatees, which weigh about 3,000 pounds, has rebounded to over 13,000.

Conservationists Oppose Relisting Of Manatees

The decision to reclassify manatees as "threatened" has not found favor with conservationists who are opposing the move. They believe that due to the change from endangered to "threatened," the protection of manatees could be affected in the future. Conservationists believe that this downlisting may create the impression that manatees are doing better than they actually are.

Many environmental organizations have spoken out against the FWC and condemn the decision.

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