By Julie Huang

Food Chain and Habitat

-Manatees eat various types of aquatic and semi-aquatic plants (Save)

-They may consume up to 15% of their body weight in vegetation daily (Save)

-Food can be found everywhere in the water (Save)

-Their diet is mostly vegetation, although they sometimes ingest small fish and invertebrates (Save)

-Three species of manatees are distinguished primarily by where they live (NatGeo)

-They live along the North American coast, in the Amazon River, and on the west coast of Africa in shallow, slow-moving rivers, especially where vegetation flourishes (NatGeo, Save)

-Migratory animals, they move south in the winter and north in the summer (Save)


-Sea mammals, manatees have to breathe air (Save)

-They normally come up for air every three to five minutes (Save, NatGeo)

-Manatees' faces and snouts are wrinkled and whiskered, but their bodies are thick-skinned, streamlined, and nearly hairless (Save, .net)

-Manatees are usually around eight to thirteen feet long, weigh 440 to 1,300 pounds, and live up to forty years in the wild (NatGeo)

-Manatees chirp, whistle, and squeak to communicate feelings (.net)

-Peak energies are around three to five kilohertz (.net)

-Communication is more frequent when between mother and calf, and in disturbed waters (.net)

-Manatees' nostrils can open and close automatically when a manatee submerges (SeaWorld)

Classification: (.net)

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Sirenia

Family: Trichechidae

Species: Amazonian: Trichechus inunguis, West African: Trichechus senagalensis, West Indian: Trichechus manatus

Sub-species: Florida Manatee: Trichechus manatus latirostris, Antillian Manatee: Trichechus manatus manatus


-Manatees do not have much natural protection, making them vulnerable to hunters seeking their hides, bones, and oil (NatGeo)

-"Marching molars," constantly replaced teeth, are manatees' only type of teeth (.net)

-Muscular lips tear plants and guide food to their lips like the way an elephant uses its trunk (.net)

-Manatees glide along at five miles an hour, but can swim fifteen miles per hour for short periods of time (NatGeo)

-Manatees travel alone, in pairs, or in small groups of a half dozen or less (NatGeo)

Reasons for Endangerment

-Manatees are slow moving and frequent coastal waters, which makes them vulnerable for their hides, oil, meat, blubber, and bones and being hit by boaters (NatGeo, Animals)

-Hunting pressure decreased their numbers (NatGeo)

-Occasionally, they are hit by motorboats or entangled in fishing nets and crab traps (NatGeo, WWS)

-Red tide is the greatest natural threat (Face p. 17)

-Red tide is caused by algae with toxins that multiply in "blooms" (Face p. 17)

-Toxins in red tide can sicken and even kill sea animals (Face p. 17)

-Boaters unintentionally hit manatees (Animals p. 33)

-Some have swallowed fish hooks or garbage (WWS p. 45)

-Polluted waters and destroyed food sources eliminate their habitats (WWS p. 45)

Critical Information

-The "Florida Manatee Recovery Plan" was made because of the Endangered Species Act by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) (Save)

-The USFWS wants to recover manatees from their endangered status (Save)

-The conservation group, the World Conservation Union, recommended that reserves should be set up in manatee areas, and that people should be taught about them (M&D p. 26)

-At websites such as "", people can learn about manatees and "adopt" one for a small fee (Face p. 26)

-Money collected is used for manatee conservation (Face p. 26)

-Visiting "" can help the rehabilitation and release of injured manatees (Face p. 26)

-People can follow the manatees' movements and learn about manatees (Face p. 26)

-Residents of Florida can get manatee license plates (Face p. 26)

-Money raised from the sale of them goes to manatee research (Face p. 26)

-Manatees are essentially harmless creatures, so getting them out of their endangered status is vital

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