Newborn manatee twins were spotted in the coastal waterways of Homosassa Springs, Florida this week, a rare occurrence and cause for celebration.
With fewer than 6,000 remaining in Florida waters, manatees have been on the federal endangered species list for many years, and births with multiple offspring can help prop up their overall numbers.
The Tallahassee Democrat reported that only 2 percent of all manatee births result in twins, and the two newborns spotted recently have a good chance of survival.
“In the past 10 years, maybe I’ve spotted a dozen set of twins but never once have I seen them in the springs nor have I seen a mother and her calves quite so visible in Homosassa waters,” said Ivan Vicente, visitor services specialist for the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.
Vicente said that the manatees, sometimes called sea cows, will remain in the coastal byways until the newborns are strong. Once they’re ready, the mother manatee will then take them out into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time.
There, manatees have been known to live up to 80 years, growing up to 13 feet in length, and weighing up to 1,300 pounds, USA Today reported.
“While the winter months draw the largest number of manatees to Crystal River, manatee spotting in the summertime is particularly special because that’s when you can see — and actually swim —with the babies,” said Adam Thomas, director of the Citrus County Convention & Visitors Bureau.
“Citrus County is the only place in the United States where you can legally get in the water and swim with the manatees in the winter months and words truly can not express how amazing it is to be graced by one of these gentle giants — especially when you see twins swimming alongside Mom.”