Do Sharks Eat Manatees?

Posted on · Posted in Blog
Posted by

Manatees are gentle, slow-moving animals that spend most of their time eating, traveling or resting. They are shy and reclusive mammals with no natural or animal predators. Because they are buoyant and swim slowly in warm waters, they are extremely vulnerable to human activities such as hunting, boating and pollution. This makes humans their greatest threat. For instance, up to 39-percent of West Indian Manatee deaths are caused by collisions with boats.

So do sharks eat manatees?

Well, manatees and sharks do not usually share the same environment and rarely compete with each other. In fact, sharks rarely encounter manatees as they do not often reside in the same waters. And since manatees spend most of their time in fresh water and only come into contact with sharks during a short period in the year, sharks are not typically well adapted to preying on manatees. Shark attacks on manatees are extremely rare.

That does not mean that sharks do not eat manatees. Actually, West Indian Manatees are occasionally eaten by large predators such as tiger sharks. And because manatees spend a lot of time in fresh water and are usually unable to identify tiger sharks, they are vulnerable to shark attacks—though this vulnerability is only for part of the year. Tiger sharks tend to prey on weak or young manatees but shy away from healthy adults that are too large to be easily preyed upon. Sharks may also prey on manatees stuck in the mud, alone or otherwise helpless, and on slower manatees that appear injured—with perception of injury being one of the main triggers of shark attacks.

Why sharks do not usually eat manatees

Although sharks can eat manatees, they do not often hunt actively for large bony animals such as manatees. A typical diet of a two-meter shark consists of fish that are less than one foot in length, making it difficult for them to deal with an animal as big as a manatee. Being accustomed to eating small fish, sharks are not suited to preying on big animals built like the manatee. Although sharks tend to go after floating carcasses of almost any size, their real preys in the ocean are the small, numerous animals that dwell exclusively on the ocean floor.

Dealing with an animal as big as a manatee is quite difficult and less appetizing for sharks. Manatees are too big for sharks to eat in a short amount of time. This means that even if they kill manatees, it is a big waste of time and energy as most of the carcass would go to waste. Going actively after an animal the size of a manatee is tiring and can potentially injure a shark.

In spite of their huge size, manatees are graceful and speedy swimmers in the water, making it hard for sharks to prey on them. They move at an average speed of 3-5 miles per hour—which is close to the average walking speed of a human being.

Want to visit Crystal River, Florida, the manatee capital of the world and swim with manatees? With the trained tour guides, visitors can swim with these endangered giants and see them up close. Crystal River is also the only place in Citrus County where people can legally get in the water and swim with manatees. Apart from swimming, there are other ways to see manatees in their natural environment, such as kayaking or walking the boardwalks of Three Sisters Springs. At Captain Mike’s, we offer several convenient options manatee encounters and we love entertaining folks. For more information on our amazing, once-in-a-lifetime adventure, visit the 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.

You might also like to read about