Want a reason to move to Florida? Well Manatees are a living reason themselves! Manatees are one of few marine mammals closer to elephants and hyraxes rather than sea lions and whales. They are big seal-looking creatures with flippers with finger nails on them and can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh 1,300-2,000 pounds. Manatees flippers are paddle-like with, like humans, finger nails on the end. For their size manatees are actually pretty fast, they swim at about 3-5 MPH but have been timed swimming for short bursts at 19 MPH. They are agile swimmers and can somersault, roll over, and swim upside down. As for their diet, manatees are the only surviving marine mammals that eat only plants or that are full vegetarians. Each one of the massive sea cows can eat upwards of 100 pounds of vegetation daily- about a 10th of their body weight- do to the low nutritional value of the plant life. They spend most of their time feeding, and when they aren’t feeding they are either resting or traveling. Manatees only teeth are called marching molars, they are constantly replaced throughout a manatees life, an adaption to their diet of abrasive vegetation. In spite of their size and how much they eat, Manatees don’t have much fat. Manatees are also a sub tropical species very liable to the cold. Manatees live in the shallow, marshy, coastal areas and rivers of the Caribbean sea, the gulf of Mexico, the amazon basin, and west Africa. Manatees can live up to 60 years old. scientists believe that because of their finger nails, their ancestors may have lived on land billions of years ago. wherever they live, manatees enjoy warmer waters and are known to stay in shallower waters. They frequently migrate through salty water estuaries to fresh water springs. Manatees are also vulnerable, endangered species. Currently, the number of adult individuals is estimated at about 10,00 manatees of that, about only 2,500 are still in the US. Some important reasons to their status as vulnerable are that fisherman are bringing nets through the amazon and west Africa and manatees get hurt and injured by that, Habitat loss due to water-front development, And the most common is when manatees have collisions with speed boats often killing the manatee. Manatees are legally listed as endangered species in the United States. Though manatees are sometimes killed by crocodiles, and suffer from habitat-degradation, a manatees main predator and enemy are humans themselves. Along with these it doesn’t help that manatees can not survive temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit, meaning when water front resorts and vacation houses are being built, a manatee is most likely losing its home. Now here are some fun facts about manatees!
– During winter, manatees keep warm by traveling to warm spring-fed rivers
– They cant turn their heads side ways so they must turn their whole bodies to see beside them
– Manatees are also called sea cows, and their bodies, calves
– Unlike whales or fish, manatees breath through their nostrils
– Their closest relatives are stellar sea cows, but they were sadly hunted to extinction within 27 years of their discovery
– Manatees are credited for being the basis of the mermaid legends
– There are 4 main species of manatees; the west Indian manatee, The Florida manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the west African manatee
– A resting manatee can hold its breath for up to 15 minutes while swimming manatee can hold its breath for 3-4 minutes before needing to surface
-Though their eyes are small, they surprisingly have pretty good vision. They have a special membrane that can be drawn across the eyeball for protection. along with this they have great hearing because they have large inner ear bones.
-Manatees use many different senses and sounds to communicate, especially between cows and their calves. Taste and smell in addition to sight, sound and touch, may also be different types of communication for manatees.
–New born manatees weigh 60 pounds. mothers must take their calves to the surface for their first breath, but they can swim on their own after an hour or so. Calves are dependent on their mothers for 2 years.
– Manatee’s thick top lip helps them gather food and grasp vegetation. As it is split down the center, and each half of the lip can be moved independently!
Thanks for reading! And think of what happens to thousands of manatees next time you visit a water side resort. Manatees over all are some of the most interesting marine life!