Florida Manatee Synoptic Aerial Survey 1991-2016
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute

Dataset credit

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute


Primary contact Stacie Koslovsky Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission - Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Data entry Connie Kot Duke University



The word “synoptic” means presenting a general view of the whole. The current manatee synoptic survey is a count of manatees over a broad area. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) uses these surveys to obtain a general count of manatees statewide. The FWC coordinates an interagency team that conducts the synoptic surveys from one to three times each year (weather permitting). The synoptic surveys are conducted in winter and cover all of the known wintering habitats of manatees in Florida. The survey is conducted to meet Florida state statute 370.12 (4), which requires an annual, impartial, scientific benchmark census of the manatee population. From 1991 through 2011, the counts have been conducted 27 times. These statewide, interagency surveys are currently conducted during the coldest weather of the year (January through March) when manatees move to warm-water sites, such as natural springs, thermal discharges from power and industrial plants, and deep canals. The ideal conditions for the current synoptic survey are cool weather, following a prolonged period of cold weather (usually following multiple cold fronts), low winds, and bright sunshine. Weather conditions and manatee behavior during the survey have a large effect on the synoptic counts. For that reason, the counts are used as indicators of relative abundance within a year and are not suitable for assessing long-term population trends. Counts can vary depending on whether it is warm or cold, sunny or cloudy, calm or windy. Manatees are more easily counted a few days after a cold front when it is slightly warmer, clear, and windless. A warming trend with sunny, windless conditions following cold weather increases the likelihood that manatees will be resting at the water's surface, where observers can easily spot them.


To obtain a general (minimum) count of manatees statewide.

Supplemental information

Prior to July 1, 2004, the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute (FWRI) was known as the Florida Marine Research Institute (FMRI).

The times are not recorded with this dataset, so 00:00:00 was filled.

Effort data are available only for 2011.

07/22/2011: This dataset, originally containing data from 1991-2008, was updated to include 2009-2011 data.

03/08/2016: Records with 0 count were included to indicate effort along a specific flight path without any manatees detected. Points were placed on land to help avoid confusion.

2016/04/08: 2012-2016 data were added. The data were downloaded from http://geodata.myfwc.com/datasets/968b88db740d4c1eb9b125e7d94f9b17_0.




Attributes described below represent those in the original dataset provided by the provider.
Only minimum required attributes are visible and downlodable online. Other attributes may be obtained upon provider's permission unless otherwise noted below.

This section explains attributes included in the original dataset. OBIS-SEAMAP restricts the attributes available to the public to date/time, lat/lon and species names/counts only. Should you need other attributes described here, you are encouraged to contact the data provider.

Attributes in dataset provided

Attribute (table column)Description
oidUnique ID (created by SEAMAP)
surv_idSurvey ID
loc_idLocation ID
yearObserved year
monthObserved month
dayObserved day
adultsNumber of adults
calvesNumber of calves
obs_countTotal number of animals observed
countyObserved county
coastObserved coast
stateObserved state
longitudeObserved longitude
latitudeObserved latitude
sp_tsnSpecies ITIS TSN
Marine mammals14,547
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1991-01-23
Date, End2016-02-13
Temporal prec.111000
Latitude24.70 - 31.16
Longitude-84.52 - -80.03
Coord. prec.6 decimal digits
Data typeAnimal sighting
EffortYES (ID: 766)
Traveled (km)886
Effort hours43
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Also availalbe from iOBIS
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