This amazing creature also known as a “sea cow” was protected under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 as well as the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978. They are gentle, slow moving sea creatures that inhabit the coastal waters here in Florida. Ranging in size from 800-1200 pounds. Although protected their biggest threat are boaters. Because they move so slow, they are often injured unintentionally by boat propellers. Many coastal regions throughout the state have “manatee zones” where by law, speed must be reduced to a minimum in order to help prevent injuries.
What Do They Eat?
Manatees are mainly vegetable grazers feeding on algae and plants. They can consume around 10-15 percent of their body weight in vegetation per day. They are mammals and and interesting fact is they only breath through their nostrils. They can stay below the surface for around twenty minutes at a time when at rest and can come up as often as every thirty seconds when very active. However, they have a massive lung capacity which occupies around two-thirds of their body length!
Sea Cows can live up to 60 years in certain parts of the world. Unfortunately, their habitat often dictates how long they will live. As their natural habitat becomes more and more jeopardized by progress, this can have a negative impact on their lifespan. Here in Florida, Manatees are most abundant during the winter months.
They are an elegant creatures to watch and photo when you have the chance. To learn more and see more pictures of these wonderful animals visit: National Geographic