Manatee

Trichechus manatus latirostrus

The Florida manatee, Florida’s state marine mammal, is a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae.  Their front flippers help them steer or sometimes crawl through shallow water. They also have powerful flat tails that help propel them through the water. Despite their small eyes and lack of outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear quite well.

manatee picture

Length 10-12 feet
Weight 1,500-1,800 lbs.

Lifespan

50-60 years in the wild

Diet

Herbivores: they eat marine and freshwater plants.

Population

The largest population of manatees is found in Florida, where there are over 3,000 individuals.

Range

Manatees take up residence primarily in Florida ’s coastal waters during winter. Some individuals migrate as far north as the Carolinas or as far west as Louisiana in summer. In recent years, a manatee traveled to New York and another swam up the Mississippi River!

Behavior

Manatees can be found in the warm waters of shallow rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal waters. Rarely do individuals venture into waters that are below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Well known for their gentle, slow-moving nature, manatees have also been known to body surf or barrel roll when playing. They normally rest and feed often. Manatees communicate by squealing under water to demonstrate fear, stress or excitement.Reproduction
Mating Season No specific period
Gestation About 1 year
Number of offspring 1 calf
Calves are born weighing between 60 and 70 pounds and measuring about 3-4 feet. They nurse underwater.