What’s brown and grey and looks like a floating baked potato? Manatees. Manatees are gentle, slow-moving water mammals sometimes known as sea cows. These large animals propel themselves through rivers and coastal waters in search of grasses, algae and water plants. In fact, they spend most of the day grazing.
Unlike sea lions or seals, manatees never leave the water. Weighing as much as 1,300 pounds, manatees lack strong front flippers to move on land. Like all mammals, they need air to live. They can stay underwater for as long as 15 minutes, but usually come up every three to four minutes for a breath.
Fun Facts about Manatees for Kids
- Manatees are found from Florida to Brazil, as well as in the Amazon River and the coastal regions of western Africa.
- Manatees live alone or in small groups.
- Manatee calves are born underwater. The mama pushes the baby up to get a breath of air.
- Previously hunters hunted manatees for their skins and oil. Today manatees are protected.
- Gentle: peaceful
- Algae: water plants
- Graze: eat
- Flipper: paddle-like hands or feet
- Coastal: near the beach or coast
Learn More All About Manatees
Watch this cute documentary video about these gentle creatures:
An educational video about the Crystal River manatees.
Question: Are manatees good swimmers?
Answer: Manatees can swim up to 20 miles per hour. Usually they swim slowly. They can turn somersaults and do tricks.
Question: Do manatees communicate with each other?
Answer: Manatees make chirps and squeaks to communicate. Mothers and babies communicate the most.