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Florida manatee

Trichechus manatus

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Fun Facts

Florida manatees are native to the United States, as seen in both the fossil records and in Native American sites. Depending on the time of year they can be frequently found in Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. On very rare occasions Florida manatees have been seen as far north as Massachusetts!

Although manatees have the nickname “seacow”, their closest relatives are elephants and hyraxes.​

Manatees were once thought to be mermaids by early sailors, including Christopher Columbus, who described the “mermaids” as less beautiful than he imagined with masculine faces. In fact, manatees belong to the order Sirenia, which derives its name from the sirens (or mermaids) of Greek mythology.

Species Type:

Marine Mammals

Common Name(s):

Florida manatee


Manatees can grow to be over 13 feet (4 meters) long and weigh over 3,500 pounds (1588 kilograms).


Florida manatees love to dine on wild seagrasses and other aquatic plants. This includes shoal grass, mangrove leaves, acorns and hydrilla.

Range & Habitat:

Primarily found in the Gulf coat and the Caribbean, Florida manatees migrate to find warmer water habitats throughout the year.


Florida manatees have large, paddle-shaped tails that make gliding through water easy. They have vibrrissae, or whiskers around their mouth that help them sense changes in water pressure. Located in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico, Florida manatees spend most of their day grazing on aquatic plants and snoozing after their meals. Manatees begin breeding around the ages of four to seven and will birth one calf at a time. According to IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species, the Florida manatee is classified as an endangered species. 

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