How Do Manatees Communicate?

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Snorkeling with ManateesVisitors to our manatee tours are treated with the magical experience of swimming with manatees right here on King’s Bay, in Crystal River, Florida. Often, human beings feel a special connection with the gentle giants. While it’s never a good idea to approach a manatee yourself, interactions that happen on a manatees terms are playful and friendly. Getting to know the “sea cows” is a real treat, but how exactly do they get to know each other?

While manatee communication is somewhat of a mystery, we have learned quite a bit about the way they interact. Even though manatees are often thought of as loners, they are actually quite social creatures, especially in the right situations. They emit a series of sounds resembling whistles, chirps and squeaks. These sounds usually have a frequency between 2.5 kHz and 5 kHz, although they occasionally reach much lower or higher rates.

Manatee sounds are relatively quiet and difficult for humans to hear. Fortunately, manatees are very good at picking up at vibrations in the water themselves. This helps them not only to hear members of their own species, but also to be warned of incoming predators, giving the defenseless manatees an opportunity to escape ahead of time.

The sounds manatees make can express a wide range of emotions, from anger and fear to sexual attraction. They have personalized calls that identify themselves as individuals to other members of their species. Males are known to be very vocal during mating season. Manatee communication is put to its greatest use when calves form a deep, dependent connection with their mother.

Biologists believe that manatee sounds could be used to potentially protect the gentle giants. They are known to emit noises, evidently an expression of panic, when boats move dangerously close. While boaters don’t have the tools to recognize these signs of distress now, many hope for some type of sensor that could alert drivers upon detection of manatee sounds.

To hear a demonstration of some manatee sounds, you can check out But to witness an actual manatee up close and personal in Florida’s Crystal River, make a reservation today with Captain Mike’s Swimming With The Manatees.


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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