Florida Manatee Synoptic Aerial Survey 1991-2019

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 Andrea Krzystan Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission, Fish and Wildlife Research Institute
Data entry Ei Fujioka 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 and noted in the [Notes] field.

7/22/2011: This dataset, originally containing data from 1991-2008, was updated to include 2009-2011 data.

01/07/2019: Data up to Jan 2018 were added. The previous contact was replaced with Andrea Krzystan.

04/04/2019: Data up to Feb 2019 were added.




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

Attributes in dataset

Attribute (table column)Description
oidUnique ID (created by SEAMAP)
longitudeObserved longitude
latitudeObserved latitude
surv_idSurvey ID
loc_idLocation ID
sp_tsnSpecies ITIS TSN
yearObserved year
monthObserved month
dayObserved day
adultsNumber of adults
calvesNumber of calves
obs_countTotal number of animals observed
countyObserved county
coastObserved coast
stateObserved state
Marine mammals16,593
Sea turtles0
Rays and sharks0
Other species0
Non spatial0
Non species0
Date, Begin1991-01-23
Date, End2019-02-02
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
Contr. through
Sharing policy CC-BY-NC (Minimum)
Shared with OBIS
GBIF (via DOI)
See metadata in static HTML
See metadata in FGDC XML
See download history / statistics