Tracking Manatees in the U.S.

Manatee Fast Facts

Status and Threats:

  • Minimum population count = 6,063 manatees (Feb 2015).
  • Manatees have no natural predators.
  • Manatees experience human-related mortality from:
    • boat strikes.
    • entanglement in and ingestion of fishing gear.
    • being crushed in and/or drowned in lock structures.
    • habitat loss.
  • The loss of warm water habitat is a serious concern as power plants close and natural springs are threatened.

Description and Behavior:

  • Large, slow moving aquatic mammals.
  • Average adult manatee is 10 ft long and weighs 800-1,200 lbs.
  • Can weigh in excess of 3,000 lbs.
  • Flat, paddle-shaped tail, two flippers, and tough, grey skin that contains many whiskers.
  • Manatees are herbivores.
  • Can consume 10-15% of their body weight in vegetation daily.
  • Closest relative = elephant.
  • Manatees can live to be 60 years of age or more.
  • Calves are born weighing 60-70 pounds and are 3-4 feet in length.
  • Twins have been documented but are rare.
  • Mothers nurse their calves for one-two years.
  • Manatees do not thrive in waters less than 68°F.

All manatee work was conducted under USFWS Research Permit #MA37808A.

CMA Research Institute scientists contribute to a dataset on manatees in the USA that is vast and invaluable to other marine scientists and marine conservation decision makers.

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