What are some cool facts about Manatees?

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An encounter with the large, lumbering manatees of the Gulf of Mexico is an experience you are sure to remember. At Captain Mike’s Swimming With the Manatees, we offer tailored manatee tours that allow you to come face to face with these aquatic giants. You can interact with them up close by diving into the water to swim or snorkel with them. If you don’t want to swim, you can still view them at close range from the boat.

Manatees are amazing creatures that play a unique environmental role by acting as indicator species for ecosystems across the United States. Because their well-being relies heavily on the health of their habitat, manatees can act as a signal of their environment’s well-being.

But that’s not all. Here are six cool facts about the amazing manatees:

1. They inspired the mermaid legends.

Sailors have long reported seeing mermaids in the sea. One such record was made by Christopher Columbus when he journeyed for the first time to the Americas on January 9, 1493. While at sea, he saw three sea creatures and reported in his diary that “they were not as beautiful as was said, for their faces had some masculine traits.” Today, it is known that those creatures were not mermaids but actually manatees.

2. They can hold their breath for several minutes.

Manatees do not usually leave the water unless they are coming up to the surface for air. In fact, depending on their activity level, they can remain underwater for a long time. A resting manatee can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes, but when swimming, the manatee needs more energy and has to rise to the surface as often as every 30 seconds. Interestingly, a manatee is able to replace up to 90% of the air in its lungs with just one breath; humans, by comparison, only manage to replace 10%.

3. They are more closely related to the elephant than to other marine animals.

Manatees belong to the order Sirenia and share a common ancestry with the elephant, aardvark, and small gopher-like hyrax. Both the elephant and the manatee have hearts that are rounded on the bottom, as opposed to hearts with a point at the bottom that is found in most other animals.

4. Manatees eat more than 10% of their weight in vegetation every day.

Manatees are herbivores. Their diet consists of up to 60 species of underwater, shoreline and floating plants, though they primarily feed on seagrass along the sea bed. Due to their low metabolic rate and the low nutrient value of most of the vegetation they eat, they have to eat a lot more vegetation to make up for the shortfall in nutrients.

In fact, their vegetarian diet is a big reason why they are such good indicators of the health of an ecosystem. When manatees are thriving, it means their immediate environment is flourishing with life, too.

5. They are usually slow, but can move at a faster speed.

Manatees often mull around at a slower speed of 5 miles per hour, but they can accelerate to up to 15 miles per hour in short bursts. They have powerful tails that help them achieve a faster speed when necessary. But since they move slowly most of the time, manatees often have algae and barnacles growing on their backs.

6. Manatees can’t turn their heads the way humans can.

Sea cows lack the neck vertebra that is found in most other animals, which is why they can’t turn their heads. Manatees have to turn their entire bodies when they want to look around.

Remarkable snorkeling experience

Snorkeling with manatees is a memorable experience. Our private manatee tours in Crystal River, Florida, ensure you will have an opportunity to snorkel with aquatic giants in the sparkling, crystal-clear waters and have a wonderful time with family or friends. With knowledgeable and experienced captains and crew, it is also an opportunity to learn more about an endangered species. At Captain Mike’s, we are committed to manatee tours that protect the animals and their habitats.

For more information about manatee tours in Crystal River, Florida, 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.

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