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What Species of Manatee Inhabit the Florida Coast?

What Species of Manatee Inhabit the Florida Coast?.

Introducing the West Indian Manatee

What Species of Manatee Inhabit the Natural Springs of Florida?Do you ever wonder what species of manatee are found in Florida? Manatees are the largest living members of the aquatic and herbivorous mammal group known as Sirenia. These sea cows have a scientific name of Trichechus Manatus, but they are more commonly known as the West Indian manatee. This species is distinct from their relatives, the Amazonian and the African manatees, in their physical appearance and the habitat in which they live.

Where do they live?

Belonging to the taxonomic order Sirenia, the West Indian manatees spend their entire life near warm coastal waters. They naturally inhabit the shallow coastal areas of the West Indies and Caribbean islands, as well as the southern and eastern waters of the United States. Sometimes they can be spotted near the Bahamas.

It’s amazing that they can adapt to freshwater, brackish and salt water. They swim together in warm locales like the natural springs of Florida or near power plant discharges that raise the temperature of the water. They tend to migrate into areas where they have enough food, space to move around, and the right water temperature.

What do they look like?

Like other sea cows, the West Indian manatees have no hind limbs. They have two forelimb flippers which they use for movement and holding food while feeding. They also have a big, round and flat paddle-shaped tail which helps them swim powerfully. In fact, the West Indian manatees are remarkably agile in the water. In spite of their enormous size, they can swim in various directions and can even do somersaults.

Manatees have small pelage, or body hair, distributed over their skin. The hair actually helps control the growth of algae on their body and also serves as a tactile system which allows the manatees to understand the changes in water current and pressure. The manatees of this species are typically 9 to 14 feet long and weigh 400 to 1,400 pounds fully grown, with females that are larger than the males.

What do they eat?

The West Indian manatees generally feed on seagrass and spend most of the day grazing. The amount of their food intake depends on their body size and activity and accounts for 10% of their body weight.

More About the West Indian Manatee: Summary

The West Indian manatees are large, aquatic mammals called “sea cows” which inhabit the coastal waters, rivers and springs of the United States and Caribbean islands. They congregate in the warm waters of coastal areas. They have two forelimb flippers and no hind limbs, and they can swim with powerful strokes using their paddle-shaped tails. Manatees are herbivores who enjoy feeding for six to eight hours of every day.

The West Indian manatee contributes to the ecological balance of the West Indies, and yet today their number has been greatly reduced due to hunting, loss of habitat, and being injured by boats, which is why they are considered an endangered species. Manatee tours have helped to promote the cause of ensuring their survival and can give us a way to appreciate these gentle creatures in their natural environment. To learn more about West Indian manatees, visit the site Swimming With The Manatees at

Captain Mike's 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, or call us at (352) 571-1888.