Manatee Appreciation Day is a day devoted solely to raising awareness about these marine mammals. Once on the endangered list, the manatee is now severely threatened. But what makes manatees threatened in the first place, and what exactly are these creatures? The manatee is a very large, fully aquatic, marine mammal. They are commonly called sea cows because of their resemblance to cows on land. Unfortunately, the water is too cold here in California for manatees to live, but they enjoy living in warm tropical waters, like off the coast of Florida! They are slow plant-eaters and often graze on vegetation that grows in the water. They can reach up to over 1,000 pounds eating this vegetation, and can reach lengths of up to nine feet! Manatees spend about 50% of their day sleeping submerged underwater and surface only to take in a breath of air. They can hold their breath for approximately twenty minutes, but tend to surface every few minutes for air.These mammals are threatened due to habitat loss, boat collisions, and becoming entangled in fishing lines. Habitat loss in many coastal areas is one of the most significant reasons for decline in manatee populations. This is because there has been a lot of damage to marine vegetation, which manatees depend on for food. In the United States alone, there are said to be only around 3,000 manatees left in the wild.
A group of manatees is called an “aggregation.”
Boat collisions are another huge reason that manatee populations are suffering. Manatees are slow-moving animals, typically cruising around at speeds between three and five miles per hour. Fast moving boats may not be able to slow down or stop before colliding with a manatee, therefore, many areas have done their best to reduce boat speeds to protect these gentle giants. In many of these cases, manatees die from their injuries that are associated with these collisions.
Manatees frequently become entangled in fishing line, which is another reason these animals are threatened. Fishing lines, hooks, and nets can easily become attached to the animal, causing them to get an infection. Entanglement can also cause manatees to drown, leaving them to be pulled under the surface, unable to get a breath of air.
So what can we do to help? If you live near bodies of water that have manatees in them, always be cautious. When driving boats through manatee zones, BE ALERT! Always obey the speed zones and remember that these sea cows could be coming up to the surface to breathe at any time. When near water that manatees could be in, do not feed or approach them. This could get them more used to humans, which in return could be harmful to their health. Something else we can do not only for manatees, but also for marine life all around us, it to pick up trash whenever we see it. This habit could save so many of our favorite marine friends’ lives! You can also celebrate Manatee Appreciation day by telling a friend or sharing this blog! Lets help spread awareness about our favorite type of cow… obviously, the sea cow!
Don’t forget to Celebrate Manatee Appreciation Day just like these two happy manatees!
Written By: Brooke Fox
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