Did you know that there are around 7,500 manatees in the state of Florida? Manatees are large, aquatic animals that are often known as sea cows.
If you are lucky enough to see manatees in the wild, it is an experience you will never forget. Manatees are friendly, massive, and beautiful, but unfortunately, they are a vulnerable species.
Do you want to learn more about manatees? If so, keep reading to learn about five manatee facts.
Manatees Are Related to Elephants
One of the most interesting manatee facts is that manatees are closely related to elephants. Manatees evolved from elephants around 50 million years ago.
There are several similarities between manatees and elephants, including a unique heart shape, similar fingernail tips, rough gray skin, and molars near the front of the mouth for chewing vegetation.
Sailers Believed Manatees Were Mermaids
Did you know that early explorers believed that manatees were mermaids? One of the most famous people that journaled about “spotting mermaids” was Christopher Columbus.
In 1493, Christopher Columbus wrote that he saw mermaids, but they were not as beautiful as he expected. That is because what he saw were manatees, not mermaids.
Manatee Calfs Stay With Their Mom for Two Years
Unlike many other marine animals, manatee calves stay with their mom for a long time. On average, a manatee only has a baby every two to five years, and the mom will continue nursing the baby for two years.
During those two years, a manatees baby will learn where to find food, how to find warm water and the best travel paths. A manatee baby weighs around 65 pounds when born, and can grow to weigh 3,500 pounds as an adult.
There Are Three Different Manatee Species
Did you know that there are three different manatee species? The best way to tell the difference between the species is where they live.
The three manatee species are the West African Manatee, Amazonian Manatee, and West Indian Manatee. The biggest of these species is the West Indian Manatee, which is the species found in Florida.
Manatees Can Hold Their Breath for 20 Minutes
Another fun fact about manatees is that they can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes. On average, manatees go to the surface every three or four minutes to get air. This makes it easier to spot them in the wild!
While they do go to the surface every few minutes, they can hold their breath for much longer if they need to. When they do come up for air, they replace around 90 percent of the air they have in their lungs.
Did You Enjoy These Manatee Facts?
Manatees are beautiful, friendly creatures that you would be lucky to encounter. Whether you get to see manatees in the wild or manatees at the zoo, you will never forget your encounter with a manatee.
Did you enjoy reading about these manatee facts? If so, check out the pets and animals category for more interesting animal facts.