Manatee Facts!

Manatee Facts!

Trichechus manatus latirostris manatee underwater animal by Ramos Keith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service PD Image

The Manatee is an aquatic mammal that is also known as a sea cow. It has a short box-like snout with short whiskers and a large, prehensile lip which allows it to gather food. The average length of an adult manatee is around 10-12 ft.

Air Breather

Manatee by Ramos Keith, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service PD Image

Manatee is an air breather. When underwater, there are flaps that close the nostrils and also its heart rate slows down to save oxygen. These adaptations allow the manatee to stay submerged for around 20 minutes but it usually resurfaces every 5 minutes.


Manatee from Crystal River, Florida. Image credit: Albert kok cc3.0

It is found in warm, shallow waters in estuaries, canals and along the coast, mostly areas where freshwater vegetation or sea grass beds are abundant. It is an herbivore and spends most of its time resting or eating. It grazes for around 7 hours a day and eats up to 10%-15% of its weight.


Mom and Calf. Image credit: psyberartist cc2.0

Females give birth to a single calf at a time after a pregnancy period of about a year. Calves can swim soon after birth and they nurse underwater. There have been observations where the calf suckles as the mother slowly swims looking for food. There are two teats under each pectoral flipper of the mother, where the calf suckles. Its milk contains mostly water.

Manatees are featured in the following books:
25 Whales, Dolphins and other Sea Mammals
25 Cutest Animals in the World!

The YouTube video playlist below contains videos about Manatees. Details of the videos featured are underneath.

The Playlist:

  1. Bad Breath From the Gentle Sea Cow Manatee – Attenborough – Life of Mammals – BBC
  2. Swimming with a Manatee – Dive Caribbean – BBC wildlife
  3. Last Chance to See Preview – Episode 1: Manatee – BBC Two
  4. Manatee – The Gentle Giant by G Sweeney
  5. Manatee Attack – A Manatee tries to bite off my Hand! by jock023
  6. Cute Manatee by POEETIC5
  7. Manatees at Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida by Craig Hossack


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