Florida's Endangered Species: What Are They + How to Help?

Posted by Crystal Long
Florida manatee poses for a portrait

With about 230 days of sunshine a year, it's easy to overlook the endangered species in Florida - Here are the five common ones you need to know about.

Famous for its beautiful beaches, theme parks (Hello Disney World!), and glorious warm weather (and of course, the oranges!), the Sunshine State is the fourth most-populated state in the United States.

Florida is also home to the Everglades. Nicknamed "River of Grass", Florida's Everglades is a thriving ecosystem that's unlike anywhere else in the world. And while there is a total of more than 120 endangered species and threatened species listed by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), there are approximately 39 native-to-Florida endangered or threatened species just in the Everglades National Park alone. Here are the five common ones listed under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) that you should know about.

Florida Panther

Critically endangered alert! The Florida Panther is actually one of the most endangered animals in the world. Because the Florida native is only known to breed in south Florida, the existing number of this ESA listed species is critically low, with only an estimated of 70 to 100 Florida panthers living in the Everglades.

Manatee

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An animal native to the state of Florida, the Florida manatee is one of the two subspecies of West Indian Manatees, perhaps one of the most well-known imperiled species in Florida. Currently, according to FWC, there are roughly 7520 Florida manatees left in danger of extinction (oh the hue-manatee!).

Luckily, the manatee has been moved from the endangered species list to being a threatened species. Manatee researcher Dr. Quinton White tells us,

"At one point there were 1,200 manatees in the state of Florida and we were killing them faster than they were being born...the good news is that we have turned the corner and are starting to see the manatee recover."

Sea Turtles

Florida is also home to five species of sea turtles, all of which are at risk for extinction. These lovable sea animals in the sunshine state include: the green sea turtle, the Hawksbill sea turtle, the Ridley sea turtle, the Leatherback sea turtle, and the Loggerhead sea turtle. Unfortunately, while these magnificent creatures have lived for over a hundred million years, today's population faces habitat loss and other hard struggles just to survive. #thestruggleisreal y'all!

American Alligator and American Crocodile

The American alligator can be found in the freshwater marshes of Florida's Everglades. This reptile has been federally protected as an endangered species since 1966, and while there are still about 1.25 million American alligators that call Florida home, there are only roughly 1000 American crocodiles that live in the sunshine state. Thus, both the American Alligator and the American crocodile are part of Florida's endangered species list.

While the above five animal species are perhaps the most well-known as being endangered, there are still many others all across the state of Florida. Just a handful of these include:

• Key Deer
• Key Largo Woodrat
• The Gopher Tortoise
• Everglade Snail Kite
• Ivory-billed Woodpecker and Red Cockaded Woodpecker
• The Wood Stork
• Eastern Indigo Snake
• The Cape Sable Seaside Sparrow
• Roseate Tern
• The Florida Scrub-jay

The sunshine state takes these imperiled species very seriously, and plenty of conservation efforts are being made statewide, most notably by the FWC. You can find more about FWC's management plans for Florida's endangered species here, and about additional resources at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

Did you know about any of Florida's 'creatures of critical habitat'? Tell us in the comments below!

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Florida's Endangered Species: What Are They + How to Help?