It’s Manatee Appreciation Day and why wouldn’t it be? I can’t think of a single reason why anyone wouldn’t want to celebrate these beautiful gentle giants of the sea. I love manatees, and I’m willing to bet after reading the next 7 manatee facts, you will too!
1. They’re vegans!
Not vegetarian lacto-ovo. Not pescatarians. Manatees keep a diet of sea grass from the ocean floor. Their bones are solid, making them heavier so they can easily get to the bottom.
2. They’re living chia pets!
Well, not really. They don’t sprout chia, and they certainly aren’t pets, but they do grow algae on their bodies (making them resemble those bizarre grassy pets you were gifted as a child). Because manatees move slowly and spend a lot of time in the warmer water at the surface, algae will start to grow. It’s a win-win situation for both the algae and the manatee’s skin.
3. They can get bigger than two Smart cars!
Fully grown manatees can grow up to 13 feet (almost 4 metres) in length and weigh up to 3500 pounds (1587 kg). That’s big. They also give birth to huge babies weighing between 60 and 70 pounds (27-31 kg). Woah.
4. They’re super lazy!
They sleep half of the day. Even when they’re coming up for air, they’re probably still sleeping. (I know what I’m coming back as in my next life).
5. They just want to be cozy and warm.
Manatees live in bays, estuaries, canals and other shallow bodies of water. The water has to be warm because they actually can’t survive in water colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees celsius). They prefer it even warmer (probably because it makes them sleepy). Most manatees can live in saltwater and freshwater, except for the Amazonian Manatee who is not down with saltwater.
6. They’re related to elephants!
Albeit, distantly. You’ll notice that manatees have similar traits to elephants. They have toenails on their fins, trunks, rough skin, hair that covers their bodies and teeth that replace themselves.
7. They can grow old!
Manatees in the wild can live up to 60 years or more! The most common causes of death are human related, which is super sad. As humans, we can do better so that these adorable “sea cows” can live long, lazy lives!
Organizations like the Oceanic Society dedicate their lives to helping sea life. Oceanic Society has been an advocate for conservation since 1969. They put together fun, educational, family friendly research & conservation trips. If you’re from the USA, the expedition fee is also tax-deductible, how’s that for an added incentive? If you’d like to know how you can help with manatee conservation, check out these awesome programs:
Other notable mentions:
Make sure to follow Oceanic Society to keep up with new expeditions, news and research efforts. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram.
Written by Sarah Lafontaine