- Type: Mammal
- Size: 8 ft to 13 ft
- Weight: 440 lbs to 1,300 lbs
- Diet: Herbivore
- Ave. Life Span: 40 years
- Group name: Aggregation
The manatee, which is also called sea cow, is a great swimmer regardless of its massive size. Some the most notable characteristics of this large marine animal include its head that is shaped like an egg, flat tail, and flippers. With the help of its powerful tail, the manatee can glide at 5 miles per hour and swim at speeds of up to miles per hour in short bursts.
All in all, there are three species of manatee namely, the American manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the African manatee. The American manatee can be found in the North American east coast, the Amazonian manatee lives along the Amazon River, and the African manatee inhabits the rivers and the west coast of Africa.
Manatees are classified as herbivores and their diet normally consists of water grasses, algae, and weeds. They generally have a huge appetite and may eat a tenth of its own weight in a single day.
Baby manatees are born underwater and the mothers help the newborns to reach the surface to take their first breath. After about an hour, the newborns can already swim on their own.
Because they are huge, slow-moving creatures that can be found in rivers and coastal waters, they are at risk for being hunted for their oil, meat, hides, and bones.
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, all species of manatees are Vulnerable or Endangered. They are at a high risk of extinction, as their numbers may slump by over 30% over the next two decades.
Aside from being hunted by fishermen, they also face threats such as habitat loss, getting accidentally hit by motorboats, and becoming caught up in fishing nets.