TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- State researchers credit mild winter temperatures for a decline in manatee deaths last year.
A preliminary report issued Tuesday by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission lists 392 manatee deaths for 2012.
That's the fewest since 2008, when 337 deaths were confirmed. It's down from 453 in 2011 and 766 in 2010.
The report coincided with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's announcement 2012 was the warmest year on record.
Only 28 of the 2012 manatee deaths were attributed to cold stress compared to 114 the previous year and 282 in 2010.
A quarter of last year's deaths were blamed on human-related causes. That includes 81 caused by watercraft and 11 by flood gates and locks. The watercraft deaths were down slightly from the 88 recorded in 2011.