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Although this slow moving marine mammal glides through the water at about 5 mph propelled by its strong paddle tail, it is surprisingly agile. Manatees have been witnessed doing rolls, somersaults and swimming upside down. When resting, manatees can hold their breath up to 20 minutes. The female Manatee's pregnancy can last from twelve to fourteen months. Typically, they give birth to one calf every two to five years but on rare occasions they may have twins.
Florida Manatees are strictly herbivores, eating aquatic plants. They tend to eat abrasive plants causing their molars to wear down, thus they're constantly growing new molars throughout their life.
This manatee is found mainly in the Florida peninsula, but can be seen as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as the Gulf of Mexico. Manatees have been spotted in recent years in Louisiana's own Lake Pontchartrain.
The Manatee has been hunted for many years for their meat and hide. They are still hunted in parts of Central and South America but they are protected by the United States government under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered species Act of 1973. In 2007, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared the Florida Manatee population had rebounded and the species has since been classified as "threatened."
- Manatees are more closely related to the elephant.
- Manatees can see and hear well even though they have tiny eyes and ears.
Trichechus manatus latirostrus
Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Sirenia, Trichechidae, Trichechus
9 to 13 feet in length with an average weight of 500 to 1,200 pounds.
Wrinkled skin and paddle tail
Approximately 40 years in the wild
Where to See
In the Wild