Manatees are large fully aquatic mostly herbivorous marine mammals. They are often referred to as sea cows. Measuring up to 13 feet long and weighing as much as 1,300 lbs these large animals swim with paddle like flippers.
Mothers stay with their young and males may follow a female but these are generally the only times that you will find manatees together. These large animals will spend half their day sleeping submerged, surfacing for air regularly for less than 20 minutes at a time. Manatees have been known to live up to 50 years.
They are fairly slow at moving only reaching 3 to 5 mph. Swimming up to 20 miles an hour by going off in short bursts. Tests have shown that Manatees are fairly intelligent with good long term memory and the ability to demonstrate task learning abilities like dolphins.
Herbivores by nature Manatees enjoy a variety of freshwater and saltwater plants. By using their divided upper lip they consume and graze for their food. Manatees have been known to eat small amounts of fish from nets. Manatees also have flippers that they use to walk along the bottom as they dig up plants and roots. Detecting plants and then using flippers to scoop the vegetation toward their lips.
Humans and their habits present more danger for the Manatees than they do to humans. Natural cause of death would be adverse temperatures and disease sadly it is human related issues that causes more damage.
Being struck by ships because of the inability for Manatees to hear the noises being admitted by the ships is one way that Manatees meet their deaths. Mutilations and deaths caused by ships and manatee collision is an activity that happens quite often. In 2009, of the 429 Florida manatees recorded dead, 97 were killed by commercial and recreational vessels, which broke the earlier record number of 95 set in 2002
Red tides, loose fishing gear, being crushed in water structures, and abuse by humans are other ways that lead to deaths of Manatees. The Manatees are on the endangered list close to extinction. During the early years of America and through the 1800s the Manatee was hunted for their bones and sport. Hunting is now illegal. Many of them now live in zoos.
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