About Manatees

The Florida manatee, is a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae. Their front flippers help them steer, or sometimes crawl, through shallow water. They also have powerful, flat tails that help propel them through the water. Despite their small eyes and lack of outer ears, manatees are thought to see and hear quite well. Manatees are sometimes called sea cows, and their languid pace lends merit to the comparison. Since manatees are herbivores, their diets consist of mostly of sea grasses and freshwater vegetation.

Range and Habitat

Manatees can be found in the warm waters of shallow rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal waters. Rarely do individuals venture into waters below 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Manatees take up residence primarily in Florida’s coastal waters during winter. Some individuals migrate as far north as the Carolinas or as far west as Louisiana in summer.

Top reasons why manatees are endangered

More Facts

Fast Facts

Length: 10-12 feet

Weight: 1,500-1,800 lbs.

Lifespan: 50-60 years in the wild

Population: at least 1,850

Endangered: June 2, 1970

Threats: Power boats, poaching, and habitat loss.
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How you can help

Join SMC’s E-Mail Action Network, Contact Florida’s Governor Rick Scott the Capitol Tallahassee, FL 32399-0001 Fax: (850) 487-0801 E-mail: - See more at:, or Contact Your U.S. Senators and Representative


"Why Is the Florida Manatee Endangered?" The Winter Dolphin Chronicles. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014. "Basic Facts About Florida Manatees." Florida Manatee. N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014. "Take Action for Manatees!" Take Action for Manatees! N.p., n.d. Web. 04 Dec. 2014.