Manatee is one of those species which are large and slow aquatic mammals. We can find the habitat of the manatee fish along with the tropical and subtropical coasts of the Atlantic. The fish is associated with inland waters which also includes the Amazon and Niger rivers.
There are three species of manatee and all of them have a similar body type that is stout and tapered. They have a little flat round tail which they used for propulsion towards the forward direction. The most stunning part of the body is that its forelimbs are modified into flippers.
This is not all about manatees, there are various species and subspecies of the manatee animal. While most of the subspecies live in the nearshore waters, maybe lagoons and even in Mexico, in the eastern rivers, you can find the Florida manatee in the waters of a lot of nearby States. The habitat of the Amazonian manatee is definitely associated with drainage areas and which is also inclusive of the forests. The habitat also includes the Amazon River.
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Where Do They Live?
The species live only on freshwater and you can easily find it in the islands of Brazil, Peru, and Colombia. The West African manatee has been found in the coastal areas that run from Senegal to Angola. These rivers could be very slow-moving rivers that also range towards the inland of some rivers.
It's time to learn about the Natural History of Manatee Animals.
The manatee meaning is they are sea cows of tropical Atlantic coasts and these are very active day and night. The most interesting part of the manatee is that they even sleep while they're breathing on the surface of the water. We can consider that the manatee are very solitary creatures but still they form their little temporary groups for a few days or a few hours and then they again get into their solitude.
You will be amazed to know that if there is any aggressive response from more than 20 male manatees, then they may all turn into a mating herd that is centered on a receptive female. There are other aggressions also that are possible to form near these feeding areas. These feeding areas could be freshwater seats and even the sources for warm water.
There have been many instances that we could see aggressions of more than three hundred Manatee Fishes near the warm-water outflows of power plants because Florida experiences very cold spells and these fishes run towards these warm water flows. Another option that the fishes choose is to migrate to the southward direction during these cold spells.
Some Interesting Facts about Manatees
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There are so many interesting facts about manatees that you will be stunned to know.
The Amazon Manatee can even migrate during water level fluctuations that we can associate with the rainy and dry seasons.
Even then the manatee fish can survive because it can even last up to 7 months in case of such situations. It is possible because they can slowly metabolize the stored fat that they have in the body and use it during such situations.
These manatees can easily grow up to three meters that is 10 feet tall and the weight is almost 1655 kg which is 3650 pounds.
It sometimes becomes very difficult to distinguish between the Antillean subspecies and the Florida Manatee because they almost look very similar to each other.
We can only differentiate it based upon the measurement of the cranial characters amongst these two species. Just like the Antillean subspecies and the Florida Manatee, it is also very difficult to distinguish between the west African ones and the West Indian ones because they are very similar in size.
The Amazonian manatees are comparatively small and they are just 2.8 metres in length and even their weight is a little less as compared to other species that are 480 Kgs. Also, they have a different color as compared to the other species.
The Amazonian Manatees are grey and also they have a patch on the chest which is white in color. Also, they do not have nails on their flippers. These flippers are used for swimming and turning and even they use the flippers for bottom walking and for food.
Another interesting fact about the manatee is that they can communicate using sound.
The mother and the child can easily communicate by using sound. The producer basically chirps under the water or squeaks and grunts which help them to communicate.
Another way of their communication is by textile contact. They have hairs across the body which acts like sensors that prove to be beneficial in helping them to communicate.
Florida manatee has been a very popular animal amongst the public because there are so many wild varieties and they always enjoy being rubbed or scratched. Tourists specifically wait all the year just to see Manatees
Even scientists were always keen on collecting information about these Florida manatees.
Reproduction and Lifespan of Manatees
Although they are very long-living creatures the reproduction process is a little slow. Their lifespan is up to 59 years even though there was a manatee who lived more than 69 years which is a very long time for an aquatic creature. The reproduction process is a little slow as compared to other species because the females can only produce one calf in the span of two to three years.
The females usually give birth to a single manatee and the phenomenon of having twins occurs very rarely. Manatees accompany their mother for up to two years and they attain sexual maturity as soon as they turn 3 years but the reproduction process occurs a little later especially during the springs and winters.
Manatee meaning is simply that they have adapted to aquatic habitats. They have very large lips and along with that, they have sensory bristles along with hair which is known as vibrissae which are helpful for the Manatee animal. As compared with the fish and Krill which are eaten by various other Marine mammals it is considerable to say that most of the other Aquatic plants are very low in protein and also in their energy values.
Putting this aside when we talk about the Manatees, they are considered very huge who eat a lot of food but they also keep their energy low so that the dietary requirements can be satisfied. Just because these species have a very bulky diet they have developed in such a way that they have 30 meter long intestines that help them digest all the food that they have had.
The reason that the Manatee animals are very bulky is that the lungs are oriented in a way that they are parallel to the surface of the water. Also, their ribs lack marrow which adds to another reason for making them very heavy. This also adds to the capability of the Manatee and its ability so that they can control the small air spaces in the lungs.
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Also, this permits the animal to maintain a horizontal position in the water. The most interesting part of their horizontal position is that they can even remain in the water in the horizontal position for more than 20 minutes. They can replenish up to 90% of the air that they have in the lungs with a single breath that they take.
If we talk about the metabolic rates of a Manatee, we can say that it is considerably low which makes a lot of sense when we talk about the long fasting periods and the reason how they can live on very low energy food. They can easily store a lot of fat in the body along with the lack of capacity to generate and retain the heat of their body in waters that have cool temperatures. The brain of a manatee is considerably very small as compared to the other mammals who have a huge bulky size as the manatee has.
Know the Life Cycle of Manatee Fish
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To conserve the populations of these manatees, it is really important to understand the life cycle and the implications of their life cycle. If we talk about the records that have information about the predation on manatees, we can simply conclude that these records are very rare. The greatest source of mortality all over the world can say that is humans. Recently manatees have been protected by law but still, we have been noticing that the numbers still have been decreasing which is not because of predation but simply because they do not reproduce much.
The problem here is not the reproduction cycle but also the incapability of the reproduction cycle to not keep up with the pace of the losses of these species. There are various things that harm aquatic life like hunting or drowning in fish nets which lead to the degradation of habitat and manatees are no exception to this.
There have been so many accidental solutions in Florida that led to the crushing of canal gates which in turn has made humans the most responsible for the destruction of the aquatic habitat. The major cause of death can be considered as humans because in Florida manatee deaths have occurred because of such collisions and the number is up to 25 to 35% high.
The situations of becoming a little more verse and the three species of manatees have been considered vulnerable by IUCN. IUCN stands for the international union for the conservation of nature.
Manatees are incredibly large and fully aquatic animals. Just because they are herbivorous marine animals they are also known as sea cows. Because they are herbivorous they eat different varieties of freshwater and saltwater plants. The main reason that the manatees are vulnerable to that these days is because of the increasing human activities and collisions of motorboats.
Also, there are natural causes that have led to the death of these species like the adverse temperature changes and traditions by crocodiles and even diseases.