Manatee PoseYou’re here because you’re interested in manatees. We’re here to tell you all about manatees. Here at the Manatee Swim Center we pride ourselves on knowing all about these gentle giants. So enough of the mana-tease…let’s get on with some fun facts!

  • Manatees are also known as Sea Cows. We don’t know why: they don’t look, sound or smell like cows.
  • We were kidding! In fact, we do know why manatees are called Sea Cows. It’s because they eat sea grass…and lots of it! Grazing on a diet of over 60 types of underwater and floating plants, manatees consume more than 10 per cent of their body weight each and every day! That means they can take on a daily portion of up to 180 pounds – that’s an awful lot of grass!
  • It is thought that manatees may be at the heart of legends about mermaids. Apparently, while getting lost on his first journey to the Americas, Christopher Columbus noted that these “mermaids” were not as beautiful as the legends suggested!!
  • Well, we say beauty’s in the eye of the beholder and we think manatees are absolutely enchanting!
  • Their diet and dependence on their environment means they act as an indicator species and provide a signal as to how well overall their habitat is thriving.
  • That said, a better nickname would be Sea Elephant because surprisingly they are more closely related to their African cousins than to any marine animal. In fact, manatees share common ancestry with elephants, aardvarks and hyraxes.
  • Although they can swim as fast 15miles per hour, manatees usually take things slowly and amble along at around five miles per hour. Amazingly, they move so slowly that algae and barnacles are often found growing on their backs!
  • Manatees’ gestation period is around 13 months and the weaning period can be a further 18 months. Calves are born weighing approximately 66 pounds but they don’t remain at that weight for long – in just one year they can easily put on ten times as much mass and tip the scales at 750 pounds! Adult manatees can get as heavy as 1,200 pounds.
  • Crystal River, Florida enjoys a population of as many as 50 manatees in the Spring, Summer and Fall.
  • Manatees are mammals but they never leave water. They will usually surface for air once every five minutes, but when they’ve drifted off (to sleep, not with the current!) they hold their breath for up to 20 minutes. In periods of greater exertion they may pop as frequently as every 30 seconds.
  • Humans sleep for around one-third of their time but manatees sleep for approximately half of theirs.
  • Manatees may sleep more than we do but when they’re awake their vision is limited because they can’t look around as easily. They don’t have neck vertebrae so they need to turn their entire body if they wish to check out what’s going on anywhere outside of their field of vision.
  • And finally, manatees prefer water to be at a temperature of 72 degrees because despite their size, they don’t carry very much body fat and so feel the cold easily. In fact, they are prone to cold stress syndrome, a condition similar to hypothermia.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this fun foray into the world of the manatees. Now that you’ve read all about them, come and swim with manatees too – it’s an experience you’re sure to treasure for years to come!