Top Facts about Manatees
There are plenty of amazing facts about the manatee that you will find quite fascinating. Some of them you may know but I am confident as you read them there will be several that you weren’t aware of.
Manatees are herbivores
Some people assume that the manatee is a meat eater due to the large size of it. However, they are herbivores which means that they only consume plants. They spend most of their time in the water grazing for food as they consume very large amounts of it.
In fact, they are often referred to as the sea cows. This is due to their movements as well as their grazing habits being every similar to those of cows. Both consume large amounts of plant life every day.
Manatees are slow movers
The manatee is portrayed as a very slow moving mammal. It is true that their average speed is about 5 miles per hour. However, they can swim up to 15 miles per hour when they have to for a short period of time. They are very comfortable in the water though and have few predators so they don’t have to move very fast most of the time.
Some Manatees can move from fresh to salt water
The different species have preferences for the water too. For example the Amazonian Manatee will never go into salt water. However, other species thrive in it. The Florida Manatee doesn’t mind moving from fresh water to salt water and back again.
There is a debate over the classification of the Dwarf Manatee. Many experts feel that they are their own species. Others believe that they are smaller versions of the Amazonian Manatee.
A manatee can live to be up to 60 years of age in the wild.
It is believed that they are evolved ancestors of the elephant. Fossils have been found that are more than 60 million years old. It is impossible to tell how old a manatee is when they are alive. Upon their death, it can be determined their age by counting the layers of rings that have grown in their ears.
Manatees are lazy
The manatee spends approximately half of each day sleeping in the water. They are able to go to the surface about three times an hour for air even during their resting period.
Manatees are grey in color
Researchers believe that the manatee can see in color. Speaking of color, they are generally gray in color but they can be brown as well. When you see green on them, it isn’t their coloring but algae from the water that has built up on them.
They only have 24 to 32 molars located in the back of the mouth. They can replace those teeth as they need to throughout their entire lives.
Manatees like warm waters
They can’t survive in water that is less than 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Manatees breathe air
A manatee doesn’t have a blow hole like many people assume. It breathes through nostrils when it comes to the surface for air. While under water, the manatee is able to close their nostrils to keep water out.
The largest loss of manatees took place in 1996 when over 150 of them suddenly died in one region. It is believed a type of deadly organism called red tide was responsible. This is a type of organism that can sometimes crop up on plant life in the water. Since the manatee consumes large volumes of food, they were very vulnerable to it.
There are three Manatee Species
How many species of manatee’s are there? Well, that depends on who you ask! There are three of them for sure: Florida or West Indian, African, and Amazonian. Many researchers also feel that there is the Dwarf Manatee. However, others believe they are just a smaller subspecies of the Amazonian Manatee.