Are manatees dangerous to swim with?

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Manatees are calm and peaceful marine mammals that pose no danger to swimmers. In fact, they are curious animals that enjoy human interaction and are quite happy to relate with and be around humans. That’s why it’s quite common for manatees to approach swimmers or divers for a belly rub or close contact. Manatees are not known to attack or harm anything. They spend several hours each day swimming to and grazing on sea grasses and water vegetation. And when they are done, they move to their private areas for sleep and rest. So if you are planning to go on a manatee tour, you’ve got no reason at all to fear swimming in manatee-inhabited waters.

Gentle herbivores

Manatees are predominantly herbivorous mammals that feed on a huge variety of floating, emergent, submerged and shoreline vegetation. Manatees feed on more than 60 different plant species, including manatee grass, mangrove leaves, shoal grass, turtle grass, hydrilla, acorns, water hyacinth and various algae. They eat 4-9 percent of their body weight in wet vegetation every day, which means they spend several hours every day grazing. The animals use their large, flexible lips and front flippers to manipulate vegetation, their horny ridged pads and lower jaw to crush vegetation into tinier pieces and molars to grind food. They don’t prey on humans and are not dangerous to swim with.

Can a manatee bite you?

Manatees are docile animals not interested in any manner of aggression. Actually, anatomically, the shape of a manatee snout is such that the animals cannot use its teeth to attack. So manatees don’t bite and do not have body weapons for attacking perceived enemies. Perhaps because they have no natural predators makes such weaponry unnecessary. While they are quite large in size, the fact that they move too slowly means they can’t gain enough momentum to cause harm with their bodies. A manatee’s body is so soft that if the animal crashes into a swimmer, it’s like being bumped by a giant pillow.

What if they are severely provoked?

When manatees feel threatened, they don’t attack. In most cases, they move away from their perceived threats. That also means that when you swim very close to a manatee or begin thrashing and panicking at the sight of one of these sea giants, the animal will move away instead of attacking you. And while some recent studies have suggested that manatees can be aggressive when motivated by psychosexual, reproductive and resource-monopolization instincts, this is very rare and occurs only under extreme provocation. For instance, manatees can hit with their tails, splash water, chase or bite when protecting a calf, while an injured manatee also may be aggressive when cornered.

Want to have a wonderful time out there with an endangered species and play your part in the conservation? Swimming with manatees in Crystal River can help you achieve that. The large gentle creatures enjoy human contact and will be happy to interact with you. And as long as you follow the rules and regulations of interacting with them, you will have a great few hours with them. At Captain Mike’s, we are experienced in planning and taking people out for manatee tours. With one of our knowledgeable, experienced and friendly captains guiding you, your manatee tour will be both fun and memorable. For more information on manatees and manatee tours, 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.

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