How long do West Indian manatees live?

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Tracking the lifespans of endangered species is critical to their survival and can offer helpful clues on how to save them. Scientists believe that the West Indian manatee can live as long as 50 to 60 years. However, for a number of reasons, few manatees in the wild live to the full potential of their lifespans.

Although manatees do not have any natural predators, they are constantly under threat in their natural habitat. Manatees often float near the surface of the water, which puts them at risk of being hit by boats. Accidental impacts from boats account for most of the serious injuries and deaths in manatee populations. Although there have been many measures passed to limit these accidents, they are still all too common.

Manatees also are affected by a gradual loss of habitat. Human development has cut back the abundance of natural resources on which manatees depend. They also need warm spring-fed waters for their survival in the colder months when ocean water is cooler. Many of these areas are being lost to human development.

Pollution has affected the West Indian manatee. A fully-grown manatee can consume up to 150 pounds of food a day. Resource depletion caused by pollution has led to the loss of seagrass, one of the main food sources they depend on for nourishment. This has made it difficult for some manatees to find enough food to eat and has negatively affected their lifespans.

Because of these factors, scientists estimate that the average manatee lives to about the age of 30 in the wild, which is only half of their potential lifespan.

Manatees are adaptable and have been known to live a long time in captivity. The longevity record for a West Indian manatee’s lifespan was held by Snooty. Snooty was born in captivity in 1948 and lived his entire life in an aquarium in Florida. He was 69 years old when he died in an accidental drowning incident in 2017. The much beloved Snooty has been studied by scientists as an example of how long manatees can live.

Conservation efforts are under way to ensure manatees live to the full potential of their lifespans, not just in captivity but also in the wild. This will greatly increase the survival of the West Indian manatee, an amazing marine animal that is beloved by many. Visitors to Florida can enjoy watching and swimming with manatees at “Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees.” For more information on manatees and manatee tours, visit the their website or book a tour in Crystal River, Florida.

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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