Manatees are an endangered species floating close to extinction. Having a lifespan of about 60 years, manatees are calm herbivores with no known natural enemies that spend most of their time eating, sleeping and traveling. Prior to 2010, there were steady gains in population over the years. Then, in 2010, a devastating number of more than 700 died. In 2013, the population winnowed down again, as 830 manatees died. With a population around 5,000, that’s nearly 20 percent of the entire species, wiped out in a single year.
Manatee Awareness Month(November) works to spread the news about these wonderful creatures and how to live side by side with them without bringing them harm or otherwise leading to their already endangered status becoming worse. After all, a future without manatee is a sad future indeed. Here’s 6 things about Manatees that you may not be aware of
1. Manatees Can Swim As Far North As Cape CodWhile most manatees spend the summer months in the Gulf of Mexico, some vacation in Cape Cod waters.
2. They Use Power Plant Outflows To Stay WarmAs marine mammals, manatees need a temperate environment to survive through the winter and manatees sought out warm water springs. Now, many rely on a more mechanical force for heated water: municipal and private power plants.
3. Alligators Give Manatees The Right Of WayEven the big 12-foot alligator will give way to the manatee. Unfortunately, motorboats don’t and nearly 60 manatees had died this year alone after being hit by boats.
4. They Grow New Teeth Their Whole LivesManatees spend six to eight hours a day eating sea grass and other aquatic vegetation. Their food has tiny granules of sand in it, which gradually wears down their teeth. Eventually, those teeth fall out. They constantly grow molars in the back corners of their mouth. As the front teeth grind down and eventually fall out, the molars fully emerge, pushing new teeth forward.
5. Elephants Are Their Closest RelativeOn land, the manatee’s closest living relative is the elephant. Manatees have three or four tiny nails at the end of each flipper, similar to an elephant’s toenails.
6. Humans Are The Biggest Threat To Their SurvivalManatees have no natural predators or enemies. Humans can injure or kill manatees with their boats. Humans have also degraded their habitat by blocking natural springs and building up the coastline. Man is the only real enemy the manatees have ever had. So now it’s up to us to literally save them from ourselves.