Manatees are gentle marine mammals that make up the Sirena family which include the three species of manatees (Amazonian, West Indian, and West African manatee). West Indian manatees are the only breed of manatee to inhabit the waters of the eastern United States. They inhabit shallow, marshy, warm waters. There are two different kinds of West Indian manatees, (Antillean and Florida manatees). Antillean manatees inhabiting more of Central America, Mexico, the Caribbean and Norther South America, while the Florida manatees inhabit most Florida and some of Georgia.
Red = Amazonian Manatee
Orange = West African Manatee
Manatees are herbivores and eat over 60 different kinds of fresh and salt water plants including (hydrilla, marine algae, and sea grass). They can eat up to 15-20% of their body weight a day. During high tides they have even been known to feed on leaves and grass.
Manatees have been both on the threatened and the endangered list and have been on the endangered species list since 1967. However, conservation efforts have been strong in growing years and as of 2016, the status of manatees have been downgraded from endangered to threatened. Despite conservation efforts around the world, there are still many threats to manatees which could ultimately land them back on the endangered species list if we aren’t careful. These threats include:
- Watercraft collision
- Habitat loss
- Red tide
Wildtracks is a great organization, located on the northern bay of of Belize. Having done my internship at Wildtracks during the summer of 2016, I got to experience the wonderful work that this program does.
SeaWorld has had a manatee rescue and rehabilitation center for many years but recently opened the center to guest at the park. This way, people of all ages can learn more about these threatened animals, how they can prevent more depressing manatee populations, as well as help the local rescue and rehabilitation cause.
Below I have included a link to a webpage that I made for one of my previous projects in my DGST 101 class. This a webpage that I created and coded all about manatees and how we can help them!