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Manatee Facts

  •  Endangered Species: Manatees; How many manatees are living? Depends on who you talk to, Boaters 3000 plus manatees and the Conservationist 2000 some where in the middle is the correct answer. I would side for the conservationist, I boat, scuba, snorkel and love manatees so I see first hand the impact we have on nature.
  • Size: Length, up to 13 feet.   Average sizes 8 to 10 feetManatee phot in Crystal River
    Weight: Up to 3500 pounds.  Average size 800 to 1000 pounds
  • 1. Amazonian Trichechus inunguis
    2. West African Trichechus senegalensis
    3. West Indian Trichechus manatus ( Antillean and Florida)        
    4. Steller's Sea Cow is extinct since 1768
  • Habitat: The West Indian manatee can be found in coastal waters and connecting rivers from Virginia around the Gulf of Mexico. They inhabit shallow coastal waters, bays, estuaries lagoons and rivers. Manatees are able to move freely from saltwater to freshwater. They often congregate at sources of warm water such as natural springs in Florida  and power plant discharges. Manatees have nomadic tendencies, pausing in areas that supply their needs and then moving on.
  • Manatee Feeding areaManatees are herbivores, mainly grass eaters.

  • Manatees can not survive in water temperatures below 68 degrees for long periods of time.

  • Active manatees needs to surface for air every 4 to 6 minutes and while resting manatees may stay down as long as 20 minutes.

  • Manatees spend between 6 to 8 hours feeding which equals to about 10% of their body weight.

  • Manatees in the wild live to be around 30 years and manatees in captivity live to be around 50 to 60 years of age.

  • Female manatees mature around 5 years of age and males 6 to 7 years of age.

  • Gestation is 13 months.  Birth size and weight   approximately 39 inches 40 to 50 pounds.

  • Manatees mostly give birth to single calf, but it has been known to give twins.Manatee nursing

  • Mothers will nurse their young up to 2 1/2 years.Manatee Rescue Crystal River

  • What Kills Manatees?

  • In the past manatees died for a few reason.   They where hunted and extremely cold winters. Well times have changed. Manatees are no longer hunted, but mortality is on the rise for many reasons, again from human related sources and natural causes.

  • Almost 40% of the manatee mortality is caused by humans.

Watercraft Mortality is the largest known cause, here is a break down on boating collisions. 

  • 60% is killed by impact injuries from physical force of a boat traveling at a high rate of speed. ( Blunt Trauma )
  • 30 % is killed by rotating propellers and fixed skews.   (Sharp Force Trauma)
  • 10% Combination of both Blunt Trauma and Sharp Forced Trauma

Loss of Habit and PollutionManatee 

  • This is probably the most serious threats to the manatees and people. When people build around the water. this causes another problem which is pollution. People love to have green grass, but to make the grass green and free of bugs you have to have fertilizers and pesticides. When it rains, the excess fertilizers and pesticides washes into our water system which leads to other problems. When manatees eat the vegetation from a contaminated area, they could get sick and die.


  •   Swimmer, boaters, fisherman all have there impact on the manatees.  I have seen people wanting to feed and ride the manatees, which is not good for the manatees and is against the law.  

    Yes, I offer snorkeling tours with the manatees, but in a totally different way. Instead of placing 8 to 40 people on one or two manatees we decided to limit our tour size. We have more education and more control of our guest. It will have a big impact on that person and the way they look at life after there manatee experience.

    Our tour is designed for no or very minimal impact on the manatee. I personally feel that some of the tours operators only have one thing in mind and that is how much money can they make. We call them cattle boats in the dive business.
    Noise pollution from boats can disrupts communication. Boat traffic can interrupt the mating session as well.Manatees staying warm picture.

Natural Causes

Cold Stress

  •  The leading non human related causes are exposure to the cold. Manatees need at least 68 degree water temperature or warmer to survive or they could suffer from Hypothermia. It seems the young are more affected than the larger manatees.

Red Tide
  • Red Tide can occur naturally or by the help of humans (pollution) with a rapid growth in a one cell organisms which grows in water with high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus. Again, with the lost of habit, this is becoming more prevalent today, with the run off of lawns, farms and golf courses. The red tide consumes the Nitrogen and Phosphorus and produces a bloom which looks like a blanket or carpet over the water, which in turns cuts off the sunlight to the plants and absorbing the O2 as it grows. When the fish and plants start to die, they decay absorbing even more O2, killing the marine life by suffocation.

  • A couple of reason why the manatees die from red tide, they eat sea grass which contains small marine animals known as sea squirts or grass shrimp which contains the toxins. Or they die from inhalation of brevetoxins. Red tide which can effect humans as well, that live along the affected coast.

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