Feeds on bay grasses such as coontail, eelgrass, hydrilla and Eurasian watermilfoil
Eats approximately 8-10 percent of its body weight every day
Uses its specialized lips to grasp plants and pass food into its mouth
Very few natural predators
Humans are manatees’ greatest threat. Manatees can become tangled in fishing nets or accidentally hit by boat propellers.
Reproduction and Life Cycle:
Males form mating herds of up to 20 manatees. The herd pursues a female that is ready to reproduce.
The gestation period lasts 12-14 months
Females gives birth to a single calf, which is usually able to swim within an hour
Calves depend on their mothers for about two months. They drink her milk for about three weeks before starting to eat plants.
Usually lives about 8-11 years in the wild, but can live up to 60 years
Also known as sea cows
Like all other mammals, manatees breathe air from the atmosphere. They can stay underwater for about 15 minutes when they are resting, but when they are active they must resurface for air every 3-4 minutes.
Manatees move very slowly. They usually swim about 5 miles per hour, but can go faster for short periods of time.
Listed as an endangered species under the federal Endangered Species Act. Scientists estimate there may only be 2,500 manatees left in the United States.