Wondering what a manatee is? Are you searching for random facts about manatees? Are you working on a science report about manatees and needing some facts? Are you a teacher or home school parent preparing a lesson plan on marine animals? Here are a few fun facts about manatees for kids.
Manatees are marine mammals.
Manatees live in the ocean. However, they are not fish. They are classified as mammals. They nurse their young like all mammals. They also need air to survive.
Manatees are very big.
Compared to many animals, manatees are huge. Manatees average about ten feet in length. That is about twice the size of a short person, or 1 1/2 the size of a tall person. Some manatees are more than 13 feet long. Manatees range in weight from about 800 to 1200 pounds.
Manatees can hear very well.
The strongest sense that manatees have is hearing. Their ears are very sensitive and they can hear objects from far away.
Manatees usually stay close to the ocean’s surface.
Because manatees need oxygen to survive, they usually stay close to the top. They breathe through two nostrils. They will breathe about once every two to four minutes. They can survive about twenty minutes without air underwater.
Manatees eat only plants.
Manatees do not eat fish or other animals. They are herbivores, which means they only eat plants. Some of the plants they eat are sea grass, marina algae, turtle grass, alligator weed, water lettuce and musk grass. They will eat over 60 types of plants.
Manatees live fairly solitary lives.
Manatees usually live alone. The only relationship a manatee will have is with his/her mother and offspring. And, these relationships do not last forever. Unlike other marine animals (such as dolphins) they do not stay in groups. They do not have the protection of other manatees.
There are 3 or 4 species of manatees.
Just like there are different types of cows, there are different types of manatees. There are at least 3 kinds of manatees. They are the Florida manatee, West African manatee, and Amazonian manatee. The one that marine biologists debate over is the dwarf manatee. You can learn more about it here.
The gestational period of manatees is about 12 to 13 months.
The gestational period, meaning the amount of time that a manatee is pregnant, is about 12 to 13 months. That means it takes a full year for a baby manatee to grow inside its mother.
All manatees are endangered.
Manatees are in danger of becoming extinct. The reason is because of the limited food supply, and because of human behavior in the past. Many years ago, humans hunted manatees for food, oil and other reasons. In fact, one species of Manatees, the Steller’s sea cow, became extinct due to hunting in the 1700’s. Manatee hunting is now illegal and the government has passed laws to protect manatees.
However, manatees are often killed by boats. In Florida, laws have been passed to require boaters to slow down in manatee areas. Check out the “Save the Manatee Club” here to learn more about protection efforts.
Manatees migrate to warmer waters in the winter.
So that manatees won’t freeze to death, they migrate between winter and summer locations. This means they move to warmer spots in the winter, and back during the summer. Just like birds migrate to survive, manatees do as well.
The manatee is a fascinating marine creature that adds to the beauty of our world. Want to see manatees in action? Check out the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park live Manatee Cam here.
Want to read more random facts? Take a look at “Fun Facts for Kids About Elephants” and “Facts for Kids About Cockroaches.” You might also read “Facts for Kids About Fireflies.” Happy Learning!
Manatees (Creatures of the Sea Book) by Kris Hirschmann