Manatees are large herbivorous and aquatic marine mammals. Manatees are also known as sea cows. There are three types of manatees in the world. They are the West African Manatee, Amazon Manatee and the West Indies Manatee.
The length of the manatees is 4 meters. It weighs about 600 kilograms. They have flippers which are paddle-like. Manatees are herbivores. They eat 60 kinds of salt and freshwater plants. Adult manatees eat about 10 to 15% of their body weight. For up to 7 hours a day they graze daily. They live in flat, wetland coastal areas. They are found in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon Basin and West Africa.
They also use flippers to dig roots and plants as well as to walk on the bed of a water body. Manatees breed once every two years. Manatees are intelligent animals and have good long-term memory. Like dolphins, they demonstrate identification skills and learning of task.
In Florida, Manatee awareness month is celebrated during the month of November annually.
Manatees are common in the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, rivers in the Amazon basin and West Africa. The Amazon River manatees are freshwater manatees and in salt water they cannot survive. On the other hand West African manatees, live in coastal estuary and marine habitats.
Migration of Manatees
Manatees move seasonally. They move to adapt to the changing temperatures of water. The West Indies manatees found in Florida travel south during the colder months of the year.
Threats face by Manatees
Habitat destruction is the main cause of manatee death. Their curiosity leads to violent collisions with propeller-driven boats and ships. Apart from that, red tide is also a big threat to manatees. Red tide is a discoloration of the sea surface caused by blue-green algae. In addition, manatees are found entangled in fishing gear, locks on ships, floodgates, and water control structures.
Conservation of Manatees
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified Manatees as endangered. In the Appendix I of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES) African Manatees are listed thus prohibiting the commercial manatees trading.
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