Florida Fauna & Flora – Florida Manatee
The Florida manatee, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, is a slow-moving aquatic animal with an elongated round body that tapers to a flat paddle-shaped tail. Its two forelimbs, each with three or four nails, are called flippers. The manatee’s head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on its snout.
Adult manatees weigh between 800 and 1,200 pounds and grow to 10 feet in length. It eats a variety of plants and can consume 10 to 15 percent of its body weight in vegetation daily. It surfaces every 3 to 5 minutes to breathe but can remain underwater up to 20 minutes.
Female manatees give birth once every 2 to 5 years after a gestation period of 13 months. At birth, calves weigh an average of 60 pounds and are nursed for 1 to 2 years. Found in fresh or saltwater, manatees move into Florida’s warm waters and are sited in shallow areas from November 15 to March 31.
It is illegal to harass, hunt, capture or kill manatees. Manatees have no natural predators, but its slow- moving speeds put it at risk of being injured or killed by fast-moving boat propellers. Manatees are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
Read the full January 2020 SECO News online.