November is #ManateeAwarenessMonth.
Manatees, despite their massive bulk, are graceful swimmers. They are also known as sea cows. There are three species of manatee, distinguished primarily where they live. They live along the North American east coast from Florida to Brazil. Other species inhabit the Amazon River and the west coast and rivers of Africa.
Get to know more about this incredible species with these fun-facts from the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium:
- There are only about 3,000 manatees left in wild.
- Florida manatees average 10 ft. (3 m) long and weigh 800 – 1,200 lbs. (363 to 544 kg). Amazonian manatees are the smallest of all three species. They are shorter and more slender. The longest manatee measured 9 ft. (2.8 m). A large individual weighed about 1,050 lbs. (480 kg).
- All manatees are either threatened or endangered, and they are protected in every country where they are found.
- Preventable problems hurt many manatees. SeaWorld has rescued hundreds of endangered manatees, including some that lost flippers when entangled in strong fishing line. Slow-moving manatees can also be hit by fast-moving boats.
- Manatees have only six neck vertebrae, and cannot turn their head. They must turn their whole body to look behind.
- Studies have found manatees like to bump one another, chase and play “follow the leader. At birth the calf weighs 60 to 80 lbs. and is 4 feet long. It nurses from teats located behind the mother’s forelimb (flipper). The mother cow and her calf stay together for up to two years.
- They live in shallow slow moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays and canals where sea grass beds flourish.
- Manatees are herbivores.
- They can see colors and patterns.
- They can hear very well, despite not having external earlobes.