Story at a glance

  • A viral video captured a pod of dolphins swimming with hundreds of manatees off the Florida coast.
  • While the two populations are friendly, the large gathering was rare.
  • Manatees have been endangered by human activity, but the population has rebounded in recent years.

There’s something irresistible about animals that make for heartwarming viral videos. This time, it’s a simple moment captured by drone footage: a pod of dolphins cutting through almost 200 manatees swimming off the coast of St. Petersburg, Fla. 


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“Dolphins and manatees don’t interact super often, mainly because manatees spend a lot of their time in fresher waters than you find dolphins,” Mike Heithaus, professor and dean of Florida International University College of Arts, Sciences and Education, told The Guardian. “There’s no particular reason they wouldn’t interact, but manatee numbers are down and that makes it less likely. The more unique part is to see that many manatees from a drone and it’s always cool to see dolphins swimming through them."

The scene was captured and posted on Youtube by See Through Canoe on their YouTube channel, where they often share videos of local sea life activity. The company, which just reopened for the spring, produces transparent kayaks, canoes and other watercraft with a number of features — including quiet electric motors — that allow for a better view of sea creatures in its natural habitat.


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While human activity and environmental pollution remain threats for manatees — or "sea cows" — there is hope for the vulnerable population, which is protected under the Endangered Species Act and the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Since 1991, when aerial surveys began, the population of manatees in Florida has grown from just more than 1,000 to more than 6,300, according to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

“If we are successful in rebuilding manatee populations to where they should be, we could see this more often. It’s a glimpse of what we could do with the oceans if we work really hard to restore them to what they used to be. The threats are still there and the population isn’t where it used to be," Heithaus told The Guardian.


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Published on Feb 16, 2021