National Park Service

South Florida/Caribbean I&M Network (SFCN)

Protected Marine Mammals Monitoring

Bottlenose Dolphins in Biscayne National Park.
Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)in Biscayne National Park.

Monitoring Reports


Parks and partners are monitoring manatees. SFCN is not developing a protocol but will link to reports and summaries.

Resource Briefs, Reports, and Data

There are currently no additional SFCN resource briefs, reports, or data concerning this monitoring topic.



Protected marine mammals are critically imperiled or rare marine mammals and are typically large species, sensitive to the effects of calving/rearing habitat loss, habitat degradation, contaminant bioaccumulation, and food-web alterations. Recovery from historic hunting/collection pressure and low reproductive fecundity are also issues. Marine mammals experience a wide range of stressors and habitat quality issues both inside and outside park boundaries. The most threatened marine mammal regularly in SFCN parks is the manatee. Because of their relatively low numbers they are affected by stochastic impacts on populations such as boat collisions, entanglement in fishing gear, and entrapment in flood control structures. Disturbance by visitors can also be an issue. Dolphins have also become a concern due to possible contaminant impacts on health. Monitoring population status, trends and distribution informs park managers about the status of these legally protected and publicly charismatic species, which enables potential impact assessments of visitor use and management activities.

Monitoring Objectives

What are the status and trends in the distribution, abundance and condition of rare, threatened, and endangered marine mammals (e.g., manatees, dolphins) regionally and within parks?

Status and Trends

Synoptic aerial survey results are provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.


West Indian Manatee
Manatee synopic surveys are conducted as interagency, winter, aerial surveys that cover all manatee wintering habitat in Florida. SFCN will link to the reports and summaries from these efforts.

Dolphins and Whales
Although there are research projects being conducted, currently there are no ongoing monitoring programs of dolphins and whales with SFCN parks of which SFCN is aware. SFCN monitoring is deferred due to insufficient funding.

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Last Updated: March 28, 2017 Contact Webmaster