What is a Manatee?

A manatee looks like a small whale and it is a mammal, not a fish. The American manatee lives in the rivers of Florida, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. It measures 2.5 to 4 meters in length.

The body is quite different. It is broad, shovel-like, horizontal, and has rounded edges. It has a thick skin which is hairless, except for “whiskers” on the upper lip. Manatees live in bays, lagoons, and large rivers, but not in the open sea.

As a rule, they prefer to stay in shallow water. When they are not feeding, they lie near the bottom. In deeper water, they often float about with the body arched, the rounded back close to the surface, and the head, limbs, and tail hanging down.


Manatees live on the plants they find in shallow waters. They use their flippers to push food to their mouth, and manatee may eat 27 to 45 kilograms of food a day. But then a grown manatee may weigh as much as 680 kilograms.

Because manatees browse like cows in the shallow waters and often usually give birth to one calf, but sometimes called “sea cows”.

Manatees usually give birth to one calf, but sometimes there are twins. To nurse the young, the mother rises to the water’s surface and with her flippers.

Manatees more very slowly and are perfectly harmless. But in some places today, manatees are still being hunted because of their flesh, their hide, and the oil which can be obtained from them.

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