Manatees are adorable giants with a gentle demeanor and an endearing curiosity. Most of the day, you can catch these large, fully aquatic, herbivorous mammals either sleeping or eating. Sadly, issues such as habitat loss and run-ins with boats have endangered them. In fact, it’s estimated that only about 7,634 to 10,434 West Indian manatees exist. The Amazonian manatee population count is not available, but scientists believe their numbers are not large either. It’s sad that such an incredible creature is in danger of going extinct. On this list, we are going to bring awareness to this incredible animal. These are 25 manatee facts that show how fascinating they are.
Images: Shutterstock unless otherwise noted.
Though manatees average about three meters (9.8 feet) long and weigh between 362-544 kilograms (800 – 1,200 pounds), some manatees have been known to reach lengths of about four meters (13 feet) and weigh over 1,587 kilograms (3,500 pounds).
Manatees do not have blowholes. They breathe through nostrils similar to seals.
Researchers use scars from watercraft collisions in order to identify manatees.
In order to tell a female from a male manatee, look at the underside of a manatee. The genital opening of the male is just below the belly button, and the female’s genital opening is just above the anus.
In what may seem somewhat counter-intuitive, power plant effluents play a critical role in manatee protection. Manatees use the plant effluents as winter warm water refugia which protect manatees during cold spells.
Manatees cannot turn their heads sideways. In order to look around, it has to turn its whole body.
A manatee’s age can be determined by the annual growth rings in its ear bones.
Manatees do not have eyelashes, and their eye muscles close in a circular motion.
It’s believed that the word manatee comes from the Carib word “manati,” meaning woman’s breast.
Manatees are sometimes called “sea cows.” It’s believed this name comes from the fact that manatees are herbivores like cows.
Manatees have fingernails with three to four nails on each flipper? Only West African and West Indian manatees (including the Florida manatee) have fingernails though.
If you think this is fascinating, wait until you see number 4.