The Florida manatee is a sub species of the West Indian manatee. They can grow to nearly 4 metres in length and weigh in at a hefty 1,300 kgs.
Manatees are related to the elephant and are gentle, slow-moving mammals. They are herbivorous and can eat 10-15% of their body weight each day. In the United States, they are concentrated in Florida and, each year, a sizeable population migrates up the Crystal River where they can enjoy the warmer water of Three Sisters springs. During their stay they don’t feed but instead live off their fat reserves.
They need to breathe air and will surface every ten to fifteen minutes to take air using their nostrils which are located on the upper surface of their snout.
They have no natural enemies and can live 60 years or more. Their habitats are mostly shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals and coastal areas.
Manatees are at risk from human activities such as boating collisions, propeller injuries, ingestion of fish hooks, fishing line, entanglement in ropes and nets and pollution.