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Sea Cows Dugongs and Manatees: Sirenia


All sirenians are vegetarians, feeding on vegetation such as sea grasses and other marine plants. While the dugong is strictly a bottom-feeder, eating only what lives on the ocean floor, manatees feed from above the water's surface all the way to the bottom. Sirenians use their flippers to uproot vegetation and use their molars to chew or crush food. Although male dugongs have tusks, it is not clear what role these teeth play in feeding, if any. It takes about one week for food to digest. Manatees consume about 10 percent of their body weight every day. Because they need so much food, sirenians spend a great portion of their time feeding.

The toothless sea cow ate algae (AL-jee) and plankton, plants that are easy to digest without chewing.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammalsSea Cows Dugongs and Manatees: Sirenia - Physical Characteristics, Habitat, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Sirenia And People, Conservation Status - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE