Manatees, the lovable sea cows that adrift to the warm waters in Kings Bay and Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River as the temperature falls, are unique animals with intriguing lives.
Learn more about our most loved sea animals a bit more by reading these interesting facts about Manatees.
Facts About Manatees
1. Are they related to whom?
Manatees are mammals. They’re similar to seals and walruses, which are the closest in appearance. However, they do not have any commonality. In reality, the manatee’s closest living relatives are… an elephant! They have extremely thick skins, often more than an inch thick. They even have three or four toenails, just like the elephant. Manatees’ snouts are an enlarged version of the trunk of an elephant. They use their prehensile lips to grab food and push it into their mouths, similar to elephants do with their trunks.
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Though they live in the same water as fish, manatees need to breathe in air to stay alive and so come to the surface regularly for a breath. When they do, it’s an enormous one! Manatees replenish 90 percent of the air they breathe into their lungs in a single breath. Their fellow mammal, humans only replace 10% of their air within a single breath. Manatees are also renowned breath-holding animals. They can keep their breath submerged for as long as 20 minutes! Don’t do it at home or with your family members.
2. Who are you calling Fat?
Despite their size and form, manatees don’t have much blubber to keep warm. They might look large, but their comprises the stomach and the intestines. “Without the insulation, they may experience cold stress when swimming in water lower than 68 degrees,” said Joyce Palmer, the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge manager. “That’s why, once the winter season arrives, they migrate to the warm waters of the springs located in Kings Bay and Three Sisters Springs where the water temperature is constant at 7 degrees.”
3. A Big Toothy Grin–Open Wide…Chomp, Chomp…
Manatees have mouthfuls of teeth, but they don’t bite. They utilize their teeth to munch at seagrass and various plants. They are huge eaters. the largest herbivore on the planet They can be nearly 14 feet in length and weigh up to 3000 pounds. They spend the majority of their time eating and consume up to 10 percent to 5 percent of their body weight in greenery each day. The constant chewing is rough on their teeth, however, the manatee doesn’t seem to care. They get new teeth for all their lives. This is similar to elephant counterparts, but they only have the ability to grow the teeth each time over their lives. The new teeth grow at the rear, pushing older teeth out in front. You can see, Maw, you lost another one!
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4. Sailors Say What? Hey! We’re Like That!
The sighting of manatees in the 1800s by sailors on the sea created the legend of Mermaids. However, the sight was actually like a dream-like experience brought on through dehydration, sleep deprivation, and malnutrition. It could also be some dreaming on the sailors’ part!
According to Smithsonian
Magazine, Christopher Columbus is said to have written the first documented report of manatees found in North America. However, it was not very flattering. As if he were seeing the mermaid, Columbus recorded: “they are not so gorgeous as they’re claimed to be, because their facial features had male traits.” The sea is a beautiful thing! We are akin to that comment!
The scientific name of the manatees is Sirenia which comes from Sirenia, the Greek Sirens, the dangerous sea nymphs that enticed sailors with their songs, luring their boats and manatees into the sea’s rocky shores. Sirenia is also a synonym for mermaids. So maybe it’s not too as surprising that people mistake one for another.
5. Slow and steady
Manatees’ brains are the tiniest relative to their size as a species of mammals. However, this doesn’t mean that they’re not intelligent. They are able to master basic tasks, just like dolphins, they can distinguish colors and are very sensitive to touch. They’re just a bit slower, preferring to go at a speed of 3-5 miles an hour.
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6. Mama and Babies
A female manatee can be pregnant all of the year! The newborn is referred to as a calf. It is at the home of his mother as well as a nurse for two years or more. Female manatees have one calf every between two and five years. When they reach 5 years old, the manatees will be ready to have their own children. Females may begin breeding as early as 3 to 5 years of age males between five and seven years old.
7. Not a threat, But was threatened
Manatees are gentle creatures and are not naturally predatory. In fact, alligators allow them to use their right of way. Humans pose the biggest danger to manatees due to propeller injuries and boat collisions as well as threats to their habitats and the quality of their water.
8. Remember Snooty and say Hello Zach and Rachel Zach and Rachel
The majority of manatees live between 30 and 40 years old. But not Snooty. He was the world’s oldest manatee in July 2017 at the age of 69. He spent most of his time in captivity. This could explain his lengthy and long lifespan in captivity, as he was secure from boat accidents in South Florida Museum. South Florida Museum.
Rachel is yet another story of success. “She is a baby calf who was injured by a watercraft and saved in the year 90,” Palmer explained. “She was rescued from the Chassahowitzka River and then rehabilitated by Sea World then lived at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park until her release into the wild in the year 1997.” Her last reported sighting was in 2016 and she was alive for nearly 20 years after being released into nature. Though she’s not been seen since the year 2016, she is believed to be alive and well.
Zach is the longest-known wild male. He was first identified in the month of October. 1967, in the Crystal River area by USGS. Zach is seen often throughout the year and was last seen in the manatee season of 2017-2018 near Three Sisters Springs.
9. Swim with Manatees
King’s Bay and Three Sisters Springs in Crystal River, Florida, is one of the most beautiful places on earth in which it is possible to swim alongside manatees. However, please use passive observation when swimming with these gentle animals. This means that you should look at them, but do not be touched. Manatees can be cute however, you should not give them an affectionate hug. Inflicting harm, touching or in any other way provoking the creatures that are protected can earn you a ticket. Be respectful of manatees and enjoy the warm spring waters.
10. Live Long and prosper!
Working together, we can ensure that the fun, loveable manatee doesn’t go the way of its long lost–literally–much larger relative, the Stellar’s Sea Cow, which was hunted to extinction in the 18th century, less than 30 years after it was discovered. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has established protections that have cut down on the dimensions of a high-speed sports zone as well as the speed allowed for boats at King’s Bay, and established manatee-protection zones that are not open to humans.
In 2015, the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge Complex prohibited paddle crafts in Three Sisters Springs during the manatee season, which runs from mid-November to March 31. Do your part by adhering to all regulations for swimming, boating, and watching manatees. You can also ensure that the water quality is protected to ensure their habitat is preserved for the manatees of the future.
“When people visit here to take a dip with manatees or watch their plight from the duckwalk, it’s an unforgettable moment,” Palmer said. “We hope that, after they leave, they’ll remember the experience and then desire to preserve their environment. The actions we take as residents of Crystal River or visitors impact the lives of others.”