Wednesday, December 26, 2012

West Indian Manatee

Manatee
 The manatee is a large aquatic mammal that live in rivers and shallow coastal waters of  tropical areas of Africa, North America, Central America, and South America. There are three subspecies of manatee. They are the West African Manatee, which is found in western coastal regions of Central Africa, the Amazonian manatee, which is found in the Amazon River, and the West Indian manatee, which is found in the coastal waters of the Gulf Coast, Caribbean, Central and northern South America.The one above is a West Indian manatee that was photographed at Merrit Island NWR in Florida. It is believed that manatees probably  evolved from four legged mammals that waded in the shallow waters eating aquatic vegetation over 60 million years ago. Over time their front legs evolved into flippers and their back legs evolved into a large paddle like tail. Manatee spend their entire life in the water. Most of their day is spent eating aquatic plants and resting. They are still mammals so they have to come to the surface an average of every 3 to 5 minutes to breath. The waters that they live in must be at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit for them to survive. If the waters get to cold they will migrate to warmer waters, often this means going inland up rivers. They have no natural predators however habitat loss, water contamination, and boat collisions have decreased their populations to the point where they were placed on the Endangered Species list.     

4 comments:

Pat said...

I love this shot of the manatee!

joanne said...

a friend of mine lives in Melbourne, Fl nearby, and when I visit her, we always visit the manatee areas....I have pics of me scratching the algae-covered backs...

Rambling Woods said...

My daughter "adopted" a Florida manatee every year for years and in my classroom we adopted another. The problem with boat strikes is huge and of course pollution. I hope to see one in person some day.

I want to wish you and your family a Happy and Healthy New Year..Michelle

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