New manatee book shares biology, conservation, beauty of unique mammal

With manatees' reclassification from “endangered” to “threatened” under the U.S. Endangered Species Act announced March 30, people of all ages have expressed renewed curiosity about the future of these gentle giants.

The new book “Florida Manatees: Biology, Behavior, and Conservation” by Dr. John Reynolds of Mote Marine Laboratory provides an updated look into the lives of these iconic marine mammals and the conservation challenges they face, illustrated with gorgeous color photographs by Wayne Lynch.

Reynolds, senior scientist and manager of Mote's Manatee Research Program and former chair of the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, shares what scientists know about manatees — knowledge that can help Floridians coexist with and continue to enjoy these unique animals.

Manatees, the plant-eating “sea cows” of Florida’s lagoons and coastal habitats, can bring a smile to the face of anyone lucky enough to watch them dip and roll through the water, feed on aquatic vegetation and sometimes even congregate by the hundreds at warm-water refuges.

Having survived for eons, today’s manatees are now under constant threat due to the rapidly swelling human population. Their habitats are often devastated by development and pollution and frequented by fast-moving boats with sharp propellers — a new form of predator from which they have no protection. Some threats to manatees are not fully understood and require much more research.

With some conservation successes in their history but many challenges ahead, manatees will benefit from efforts to understand, conserve and educate the public about their species.
Media contact at Johns Hopkins University Press: Kathryn Marguy, 410.516.6930,

Credit: Mote Marine Lab.
Bewhiskered manatee. Credit Wayne Lynch.
Rotund Florida Manatee. Credit Wayne Lynch.