Tuesday, January 15, 2008

All about manatees

Manatees (family Trichechidae, genus Trichechus) are large, aquatic marine mammals sometimes known as sea cows. The largest population of manatees is found in Florida, where there are over 3,000 individuals. The florida manatee, Florida’s state marine mammal, is a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are grayish brown in color and have thick, wrinkled skin on which there is often a growth of algae. Well known for their gentle, slow-moving nature, manatees have also been known to body surf or barrel roll when playing. They normally rest and feed often. Manatees communicate by squealing under water to demonstrate fear, stress or excitement. Manatees are capable of understanding discrimination tasks, and show signs of complex associated learning and advanced long term memory. Manatees eat aquatic plants and can consume 10-15% of their body weight daily in vegetation. They graze for food along water bottoms and on the surface. They may rest submerged at the bottom or just below the surface, coming up to breathe on the average of every three to five minutes. Sources: Save the Manatee Defenders of Wildlife

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