What is the speed of a manatee?

If an award was given for the most easy-going and placid animal in the water, it would definitely go to the manatee. Manatees look like giant, elongated lumps of dough with large paddle-shaped tails and wrinkled heads.

They have whiskers growing from their chins and rectangular, nail-tipped flippers. Usually grey or brown in colour, the manatee is one of the most friendly and curious creatures you can encounter underwater.

These plant-eating herbivores graze on sea grasses and other aquatic plants. These gentle giants are also called ‘sea cows’ because of their docile dispositions. They can grow to a length of up to 13 feet and weigh about 590 kg.

They can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes underwater, but usually come up every 2 to 3 minutes to breathe. They spend their time resting for up to 12 hours suspended near the surface of the water or lying on the bottom of shallow, slow-moving rivers, saltwater bays and canals. However, they are capable of reaching speeds of up to 25 km/h, in short bursts, when required.

These marine mammals look like oversized otters or seals but are actually more related to elephants! They are so friendly that it sometimes gets them into trouble! Manatees will swim over to any curious looking object (like a passing boat) and try to examine it. Consequently, many of them get cut by propeller blades and bear the scars on their backs.

They are found in the shallow, marshy coastal areas and rivers of the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Amazon basin and West Africa. They cannot survive in temperatures below 60 degrees, which is why they migrate from the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico to natural springs in Florida during the winter months.

The main challenges for manatees are human-related issues, such as habitat destruction and manmade objects such as boats and ships. Other threats include adverse temperatures, predation by crocodiles on their young and diseases. Their numbers are declining and they are listed as ‘Threatened’ in the IUCN List.

Picture Credit : Google

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