5 Things You Might Not Know About Manatees

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Snorkeling with the large, slow-moving manatees is an adventure you are sure to remember. During a manatee tour, you can dive into the water and swim or snorkel with the aquatic giants. You can also view them from your boat if you don’t want to get wet.

At Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees, we provide tours designed to ensure education and pleasure while inspiring people to protect the animals.

While manatees are curious and docile creatures that enjoy human interaction, they are also endangered animals heavily protected by law. You will have to know the dos and don’ts of interacting with them before your tour. Learning more about manatees before your trip will make your encounter more fun, rewarding, and memorable.

Want to learn a few quick facts about the sea giants?

Here are five things you might not have known about manatees:

1. Manatees are the ocean’s largest herbivore

Manatees reside in ocean waters and rivers where they spend up to 8 hours every day feeding on vegetation. Although they mainly eat aquatic plants like seagrasses, water weeds, and other vegetation, they are also opportunistic feeders. They eat a wide variety of plant matter, including Hydrilla and acorns from overhanging branches by the bank.

An adult manatee can grow to a length of 13 feet and weigh as much as 1300 pounds. Generally, female manatees are heavier than males.

Manatees can consume up to 10-15% of their body weight in vegetation each day, which is why they are known as the ocean’s largest herbivores.

2. Manatees are the origin of mermaid stories

While the word “manatee” comes from the Carab word “manti,” which means “breast” or “udder,” these sea giants are known to have been the source of mermaid tales among sailors.

For years, sailors reported seeing mermaids in the sea. One such record was found in the diary of Christopher Columbus, dated January 9, 1493. Today, it is understood that the said “mermaids” were actually manatees.

In terms of relatives, manatees are closely related to two land animals: the hyrax and the elephant. Elephants and manatees have hearts rounded on the bottom; most other animals have hearts with a point at the bottom.

3. Manatees consume meat

Occasionally, manatees consume clams and fish as a source of protein. They also tend to ingest some small invertebrates that reside on the plants they eat. Though meat is an excellent source of protein for animals, the consumption is usually unintentional.

4. Manatees have varied modes of communication

Manatees have thick, whisker-like hairs called vibrissae on their faces and bodies. These innervated follicles help the manatees to sense and explore the world around them. Manatees frequently touch each other with these hairs during sexual play and often rub against rocks during their leisure time.

These sea cows also communicate by sound, particularly between mothers and their calves. They use vocalizations to keep track of one another and when fearful, sexually aroused, or playful. They tend to show agitated behavior towards predators and make impulsive chirping sounds. Groups of manatees may even stand against and head-butt predators, though they attempt to flee danger usually.

5. Manatees can swim at a faster speed

Manatees beat their tails up and down to achieve forward motion. Their tails are quite powerful and can help them to move at a faster speed. However, while they can achieve speeds of up to 15 miles per hour using their tails, the animals prefer to go at a slower 5 miles per hour pace unless they sense danger.

When accelerating, manatees bring their flippers up against their body, but at cruising speed, they let their flippers hang downward. Their flippers help them in turning and stopping.

They can also hold their breath for 15-20 minutes but tend to surface every 3-5 minutes to breathe. With just one breath, a manatee can replace up to 90% of the air in its lungs; humans, by comparison, can only manage to replace 10%.

Awesome snorkeling experience

Would you like to swim with manatees or take a manatee tour? At Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees, we recognize that an outing with these gentle animals is a beautiful privilege. We take the planning and execution of tours seriously to ensure that every guest enjoys a unique, exciting, and memorable adventure.

You can trust us with your manatee tour, and look forward to a thrilling snorkeling adventure.

You will have an experienced and knowledgeable captain to assist you, provide information about the manatees and their habitat, and ensure you have the best, safest and most memorable swim experience possible.

The trips are all-inclusive. We provide a snorkel, mask, and wet suit for the day as part of your package.

For more information on manatee tours in Crystal River, Florida, visit Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees website.

Swimming with the Manatees boasts the best water adventure in Crystal River, Florida with lots of things to do for you and your family. For more information, contact us online, or call us at (352) 571-1888.

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