Manatees are endangered mammals that are often referred to as sea cows because of their huge bodies. Despite their large stature, manatees are said to be very gentle animals. Many of them can be found in coastal sea water of Florida in the US and in the shallow portions of the Amazon River in Brazil. Aside from being called large but gentle sea creatures, manatees are interesting animals in so many ways because of the following facts:
Fact 1: Manatees may be considered large sea animals but they only eat plants to survive. Classified as herbivores, these sea mammals mainly feed on sea grass particularly those that grow on the ocean floors.
Fact 2: Algae consider the manatee’s skin as their own. The manatees are known to wade on shallow waters and spend much of their time above them. They also move pretty slowly and gently allowing algae to stick and survive in their skin.
Fact 3: Manatee calves prefer milk to sea weed and grass. Newborn manatees actually survive on milk from their mothers instead of having to feed on sea plants and algae.
Fact 4: Adult manatees have great lung power. This is so great that they can hold their breath for as long as 20 minutes. When resting on the ocean floor for example, manatees may not gasp for air in the surface for several minutes. With their slow movement, these gentle animals can basically conserve their oxygen tanks in the form of their lungs.
Fact 5: The lifespan of a healthy manatee is about 40 years. This simply means that when the calves reach 20 years, they have already reached middle age. Some manatee species may also reach 60 years of age.
Fact 6: Manatees are frequent eaters. In a span of 24 hours, manatees may feed on sea weeds and water grass every now and then to support their huge bodies. Adult manatees can also eat as much as a tenth of their body weight.
Fact 7: Manatees are actually fast swimmers. Not that they do it regularly but adult manatees can swim so fast reaching to as high as 20 miles per hour. In so-called short bursts of swimming, these large sea mammals can swim fast with the aid of their very strong tails. Under normal conditions, manatees swim gently at three to five miles per hour.
Fact 8: Manatees prefer warmer seas and rivers. Some of them may reach to the northern states of the US but most of them prefer the warmer waters of the south especially during the winter. Most manatees in the US for example are concentrated in the Florida area.
Fact 9: Newborn calves are fast learners. Baby manatees are said to learn how to swim independently after only one hour of training from their mothers. Born underwater, manatee calves are guided by their mothers for up to two years but it only takes them about an hour to swim on their own and learn how to breathe in the surface.
Fact 10: Manatees are scientifically related to elephants. Despite being referred to as sea cows, manatees are actually relatives to the elephant family. When looking at their body structure, both elephants and manatees have very tough and thick skin. Both animals also have trunks and hair bristles in their entire bodies.