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Manatees: Trichechidae

Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, West Indian Manatee (trichechus Manatus): Species AccountGEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, MANATEES AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS


Manatees live on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the west, they are found from the southeastern United States throughout the Caribbean region to southeastern Brazil and in rivers of the Amazon River Basin. Manatees migrate, travel from one region to another, seasonally, to Florida coastal waters during the winter months. In the east, they live along the African coast, from Senegal to Angola.

Manatees live in shallow coastal waters and estuary (EST-yoo-air-ee) waters, where saltwater and fresh water mix. They also need areas where marine vegetation is plentiful.

Manatees are primarily vegetarian, though they do sometimes ingest shrimp, snails, or crabs as they feed on ocean-floor plants. A large manatee eats up to 200 pounds (91 kilograms) of sea grass and algae (AL-jee) each day.

It is not uncommon for a manatee to have scars on its back due to collision with a recreational boat, and these accidents are the primary cause of death for the manatee population. Though law prohibits the deliberate killing of manatees, they are still hunted for food in many areas.

All manatees are considered Endangered, facing a very high risk of extinction in the wild, according to the World Conservation Union (IUCN). The main cause of death is habitat destruction and human activity, specifically recreational boating accidents.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceMammals