The Florida manatee is a large mammal with a body which tapers down to a paddle like tail. They have two front flippers and each flipper has between three and four nails. The closest relative to the manatee is the elephant. On average, an adult manatee is approximately 10 feet long and weighs 1000 lbs.
You may find manatees in shallow water coastal regions, slow moving rivers and estuaries, mainly where sea grass beds or fresh water vegetation are abundant. In the United States, manatees are concentrated in Florida during the winter months and in the summer months, manatees may travel as far west as Texas, and north along the Atlantic coast to the Carolinas with a few having ventures as far north as Massachusetts.
The majority of the time they’re found eating, resting, and on the move. Manatees are herbivorous meaning they are vegetarian and consume only algae and plants. They’ll consume 10-15% of their body weight daily in vegetation. Manatees may rest on the bottom, or just under the surface, for up to 20 minutes. They can swim close to 20 mph, but do so in only short bursts when scared or attempting to get out of harm’s way,
It’s estimated that manatees can live as long as 60 years. They have no known enemies except for man and many human related deaths are due to watercraft. In the end, the manatee’s loss of habitat is the most serious threat in america today.
Mothers will nurse their young for between 1 and 2 years, during the time the calf will remain dependent on the mother.