Do manatees have natural predators?

Posted on · Posted in Blog, Videos
Posted by

Dwelling in the shallow, swampy rivers and coastal areas of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, the West Indian manatee is a gentle and graceful marine giant that can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh up to 3,500 pounds. Florida manatees are often found in the rivers, springs and coastal waters of the state, though in the summer they can be found as far north as Massachusetts or up the eastern shoreline in the Carolinas and Georgia. They have a delicious red meat, precious skin and sweet oil, which are attractive to hunters and poachers. However, with recent conservation efforts the threat from hunting has dropped significantly.

Do manatees have natural predators?

Manatees are lucky not to have any real natural predators. While sharks, killer whales, crocodiles and alligators can prey on unsuspecting manatees while grazing under the water, this is very rare because of difference in habitat. The predators prefer to dwell in deeper waters and are not usually found in the marshy and often salty waters where manatees reside. Florida manatees do not have claws or sharp teeth to fight their enemies. As a safety measure the manatees dwell mainly in shallow waters to avoid their predators. Staying in shallow water also ensures that, if attacked, they are less likely to be drawn under water for more than 15 minutes, which they can endure without breathing.

Deaths due to cold water stress

Apart from the danger posed by natural predators, exposure to cold water is a serious threat to Florida manatees. Manatee bodies usually shut down when they find themselves in waters with temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). This may occur when manatees accidentally migrate from warm water to cold water areas, leading to death in a short span of time. Young manatees are at a huge risk of cold water stress because of their curiosity while sick or injured manatees that cannot migrate to warmer areas in winter are also susceptible.

What is currently the biggest threat to manatee populations?

The greatest risk to manatee populations is increased human activities in manatee habitats. With more watercrafts in the waters where manatees reside, injuries and deaths due to boat collisions have increased greatly. Boats continue to accidentally hit, kill or injure manatees because the animals have a dark color and are very difficult to see from the water surface. Manatees also swim slowly and are often noticed by boaters only when it is too late. In fact, about 25 percent of all annual manatee deaths in Florida are boat-related, with more deaths occurring from impact wounds than from propeller injuries. Manatee deaths also may occur when they swallow fishing lines, plastic bags or find themselves tangled up in fishing lines. Human destruction of mangrove areas, seagrass beds and salt water marshes also may lead to manatee deaths.

Working with a responsible operator

Want to see and swim with Florida manatees? At Captain Mike’s, we will ensure that you enjoy a thrilling and memorable day out with these amazing mammals without any threat to their lives. We have skilled and experienced guides who understand the rules that apply when swimming with manatees. Your guide will help you maneuver your boat through their habitat and locate, see and swim with manatees without causing any disturbances that may create potential risks to them.

Due to our commitment to protection and conservation of manatees, we ensure you have a safe, educational and pleasant trip while doing all we can to give the animals the respect they deserve as we cruise through their home. With Captain Mike’s, you can be sure of working with a responsible operator who will deliver that ultimate encounter with the manatees. For more information on planning memorable manatee tours and the safety measures to follow during a manatee tour, visit the “Captain Mike’s Swimming With The Manatees” site.


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.

You might also like to read about