<p>A <a href="http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/manatee/?source=A-to-Z">manatee</a> rests among the <a href="http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2007/02/mangroves/warne-text">mangroves</a> in coastal <a href="http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/belize-guide/">Belize</a>, one of a record-high 507 individuals spotted during aerial surveys in the Central American nation that serves as the primary home of the endangered Antillean manatee.</p><p>Slow moving and air breathing, manatees have lifestyles conducive to such aerial surveys, but, encouragingly, the recent count still represents a minimum because many animals no doubt went unseen. Scientists also reported that ten percent of the manatees recently spotted from the air were calves.</p><p>(See <a href="http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/videos/mating-manatees/">video of mating manatees</a>.)</p><p>Such science shows not only how many manatees there are but how they use the landscape, according to Birgit Winning, president of the<a href="http://www.oceanicsociety.org/"> Oceanic Society</a>.</p><p>"These aerial surveys show areas of concentration where manatees are found in numbers," she said. "These areas are important to them for things like feeding or nursing and they need special protections from threats, including habitat degradation or boat collisions due to high traffic."</p><p><em>—Brian Handwerk</em></p>

Counting Manatees

A manatee rests among the mangroves in coastal Belize, one of a record-high 507 individuals spotted during aerial surveys in the Central American nation that serves as the primary home of the endangered Antillean manatee.

Slow moving and air breathing, manatees have lifestyles conducive to such aerial surveys, but, encouragingly, the recent count still represents a minimum because many animals no doubt went unseen. Scientists also reported that ten percent of the manatees recently spotted from the air were calves.

(See video of mating manatees.)

Such science shows not only how many manatees there are but how they use the landscape, according to Birgit Winning, president of the Oceanic Society.

"These aerial surveys show areas of concentration where manatees are found in numbers," she said. "These areas are important to them for things like feeding or nursing and they need special protections from threats, including habitat degradation or boat collisions due to high traffic."

—Brian Handwerk

Photograph courtesy Tony Rath via Oceanic Society

Photos: Aerial Survey Spots Record Number of Manatees

An aerial survey from the skies above Belize has spotted a record number of manatees enjoying clear coastal waters.

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