MERR Institute, Inc. 801 Pilottown Road | Lewes, DE 19958 | (302) 228-5029 | Email

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WEST INDIAN MANATEE
(Trichechus manatus)

Anatomy:

  • Gray or gray-brown, blotches and scarring from boat propellers are common

  • Small head, no neck crease, large and spatulate tail. A rotund body, eyes are small and deeply set, a bristly muzzle with prehensile lips

  • Adult Size: 8.2-14.8 ft. up to 3,500 lbs.

  • Birth Size: 3.3 ft. about 70lbs

Behavior:​

  • Slow swimmers, average dives are about 4 minutes, maximum dives at 24 minutes.

  • Group near warm water during cold weather

  • Herbivorous, eating sea grasses and plants

  • Make seasonal inshore-offshore movements in response to temperature change (~1,000 miles roundtrip)

Fun Facts:

  • The West Indian manatee is surprisingly agile in water, and individuals have been seen doing rolls, somersaults, and even swimming upside-down. 

Group Size:

  • They travel alone or in pairs

Location:

  • Inshore and Offshore

Status:

  • Endangered but stable

Distribution:

  • Warm coastal and inland waters (marine, estuarine, and riverine), but need access to freshwater

  • Tropical w. Atlantic Ocean in U.S. waters, primarily peninsular Florida and southeast Georgia, but range from Texas (Gulf Coast) to as far north as Rhode Island

Threats:

  • Boat collisions

  • Cold-stress

  • Toxic algal blooms

  • Coastal development and industrial catastrophes

 

Diet:

  • Marine vegetation