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FOR AGES 3 YEARS TO 18 YEARS
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Manatees are large and non-violent marine animals.
These animals are not known to impose any threat to humans. Instead, they love to interact with humans, and therefore, manatee tours are quite popular among people.
Manatees belong to the genus Trichechus, and there are a total of three species under this genus. They inhabit the coasts of the West Indies, Amazon, and the Orinoco rivers in South America and in western Africa. They are extremely large animals with a weight of about 882-1,212.5 lb (400-550 kg) and a length of about 13 ft (4 m). Their streamlined body helps them to easily swim past underwater and a square-shaped head. Although they are excellent swimmers, the manatees are not capable of traveling on land. They are capable of staying submerged for about 15-20 minutes. These animals are herbivores in nature and forage on a wide range of aquatic and shoreline vegetation, including hydrilla, mangrove leaves, water hyacinth, manatee, and shoal grass. Their forelimbs are webbed and flattened to form flippers that help them to swim. They spend most of their time feeding in the swamps. Owing to their anatomy, manatees are submissive and do not impose any threat to humans.
Baby manatees stay close to their mother. They are not aggressive in nature. The calves tend to be curious at times and become playful on seeing humans.
They love human interaction and seek close contact with humans. The babies generally forage along with their mothers. Some mother manatees can be overprotective at times, while others may be liberal enough to let their babies explore on their own. A baby manatee can get spooked if provoked. They can swim immediately out of sight with the help of their flippers. The calves are born underwater and only a single birth is given by the mothers. Breeding takes place throughout the year and their gestation period lasts for about a year. The mother manatee forms an everlasting bond with her calf. She is seen to carry her baby on her back or clasped to one side.
Manatees are peace-loving animals that are very friendly. They forage all throughout the day and head back to their private areas for resting. They are docile and do not impose any threat to other animals and humans.
If provoked, they will move away quickly and disappear from the sight. In fact, they do not possess any defensive structures, and hence, are unable to attack anyone. Moreover, their huge body size makes them slow animals. The boxy snout of the gentle giants prevents them from using their teeth to attack. It has an extremely soft body, and if it bumps into anyone, its body will absorb the shock, just like a pillow. These marine mammals do not have any natural predators. Humans are their biggest threat and manatees were considered Endangered species, however, as of 2016, they are classified as a Threatened species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. It is, therefore, illegal to touch or capture a manatee according to the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act.
A manatee, also called a sea cow, comes in three different species, which are the West Indian manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the West African manatee.
All three species are gigantic with a bodyweight of 882-1,212.5 lb (400-550 kg). They thrive well in temperate environments and seek warm water during the winter. They rely on power plants that pump out fresh water at higher temperatures. Tiny sand particles stick to their teeth as they continuously forage on the aquatic vegetation. The teeth of these marine mammals fall off eventually and new teeth grow. Other animals that get their teeth replaced several times during their life are kangaroos and elephants.
These creatures are currently on the verge of extinction. Habitat loss including loss of seagrass and other plants in the wild has increased their vulnerability. Usually, no other animal preys on the manatees. Humans are solely responsible for their condition.
Several actions are taken in order to protect the manatees. Wildlife sanctuaries with a multitude of plant species on which they feed are established for manatee conservation. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act made it illegal to touch or harass a manatee, let alone capture it. If found guilty, necessary actions such as a fine or a jail term will be taken. All three species of manatees are listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN since the 1980s. Their population hit the lowest in the year 1970 with only a hundred individuals. Recently in 2016, the population of the West Indian manatees has increased a bit due to the efforts and the rules implemented by the Government. A recent wildlife encounter highlighted about 6250 manatee swimming in the springs of Florida. Excessive use of the boat has caused the death of many manatees while they were foraging on plants.
Manatees are adorable mammals with large body sizes. They show absolutely no form of aggression and enjoy swimming with humans.
A large number of tourists opt for visiting the manatee and cherish its amiable behavior. The manatee species are great swimmers and are often seen accompanying sea divers and snorkeling individuals in deep water. In fact, the manatees often come up to the surface for a quick belly rub and swim away if threatened. This sociable behavior is immensely popular among tourists. If you are a local and know how to treat manatees appropriately, you can swim with them without a tour. Owing to their anatomical features and the body snout that prevents them from using their teeth to bite, these animal species are considered harmless. Although, some scientists claim that males can be rarely aggressive if provoked during their reproduction season. Mother manatees can display some defensive skills in order to protect their calf. It is able to splash water, hit with the tail, and even chase away if threatened.
The manatee species are seen to interact with humans a lot. They are highly sociable and often come up to the surface with curious minds.
They do not possess any body parts that they can use as weapons and are seen to eat only plants in the rivers or along with the coastal areas or on Florida's gulf coast. If they are provoked, they gently move away from the sight of the humans. They showcase a jovial nature and even consume food from the hands of humans. Their soft body makes it difficult for them to gain momentum and swim away immediately. An interesting feature that they possess is the nostrils to breathe, which they keep close when swimming underwater. When they come up to the surface, they poke out their nostrils and breathe in oxygen. They come up to the surface after every 20 minutes in order to breathe. These animals possess lungs that help them to regulate buoyancy. They are mostly found diving alone or in large aggregations of more than 2oo individuals together. They form this colony during the winter seasons when they come to the warmer water for nourishment.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for are manatees aggressive? then why not take a look at animals in the Arctic Ocean, or are angelfish aggressive?
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