Why Manatees Are Awesome!

The ocean’s largest herbivores, manatees have a special place in every Floridian’s heart. These amazing animals lead an interesting existence. Here’s some cool facts about them you can use to impress your friends:

  • Though manatees are very large creatures, West Indian and West African manatees must live in warm waters due to their low metabolic rates and very little fat that can protect them from the cold.
  • That’s right, it’s not fat that makes up the substantial size of manatees. In fact, it is due to the large stomachs and intestines of manatees that make them look like they have much more body fat than they really do. manatee swimming in water
  • Elephants are the closest living relatives of manatees. Their common ancestor, a land animal from which manatees have evolved, existed over 50 million years ago.
  • Manatees are mammals, and typically rise to the surface of water every three to five minutes for air, although they can hold their breath up to 20 minutes underwater.
  • We all know that humans have one round of baby teeth that they lose and are replaced with a final and permanent set of adult teeth. Manatees, on the other hand, continuously replace their teeth throughout the course of their lives. Older teeth at the front will fall out and new teeth grow in at the back to eventually replace them. The same thing happens with elephants!
  • Manatees may not be as clever as dolphins, but they can learn basic tasks, differentiate colors, and are extremely sensitive to touch.
  • Manatees have no natural predators though humans have played a major part is making all three species of manatees (West Indian, West African, and Amazonian) at risk of extinction. Half of West Indian manatee deaths are caused by humans, mostly due to boat collisions.
  • Manatees are very slow-moving animals, which is why they have trouble swimming out of the way of passing boats in time. Many waterways in Florida have speed regulations in place to protect manatees from getting hit by boats.

FL Adventure Coast Manatee Sign

  • West Indian manatees are protected by the Manatee Sanctuary Act, which means that it is against the law for “any person at any time, by any means, or in any manner intentionally or negligently to annoy, molest, harass, or disturb or attempt to molest, harass, or disturb” the endangered animals. If caught violating this Florida law, you could face a maximum fine of $500 and/or imprisonment for up to 60 days.
  • But simply viewing these majestic creatures is totally ok! Take a day or weekend trip to any of these locations for a chance to see these amazing animals yourself.