Why are manatees so fat?

Posted on · Posted in Blog
Posted by

When you look at a manatee, the first thing you notice is its size. The manatee is quite a large aquatic mammal, even more so when you observe it at a closer range. It makes you wonder what makes up its big body? Is it muscle mass from all the swimming, or are they just fat?

Are manatees fat?

Well, the answer is no. Manatees are not fat, though they may appear to be. These gentle creatures live in tropical waters and do not need body fat to keep them warm, like bears or sea lions. They have limited body fat, in fact, and their plump appearance is not related to blubber.

So why do they look fat?

The digestive tract of a manatee takes up a large percentage of its body. Being aquatic herbivores, they consume large quantities of vegetation which are accommodated in the stomach and intestines, resulting in their round appearance. A manatee eats anywhere from 10-15% of its body weight in food on a typical day.

Shortfall in nutrients

Manatees are compelled by circumstances to eat a lot of vegetation each day. Most of the plants they feed on have low nutritional value, so they have to eat large amounts of plants daily to make up for the deficit in nutrients.

Also, manatees have low metabolic rates. That means they do not produce significant amounts of heat in their bodies. And since they have limited body fat, manatees have to consume a lot of vegetation to ensure they have the energy to keep themselves warm.

High risk of cold shock

Due to their low body fat, the manatees have a low tolerance for cold, so they need warm water to survive. That is why Florida manatees tend to hang around warm water springs and human-made structures, such as power plants, for additional warmth.

Manatees survive best in water that is at least 72°F. In water below that temperature, they are likely to die of hypothermia. In 2010, at least 246 manatees died because the water was colder than usual in Florida. For that reason, manatees are found near the surface of the water or in shallow areas, where the water is usually warmer. In colder months, they migrate to the warm water springs to survive.

Delightful interactions with manatees

Manatees are among the most wonderful creatures in the ocean. They are docile and curious, and they like interacting with humans.

At Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees, we offer guests and visitors in Florida the opportunity to spend time with these beautiful animals. Our private manatee tours are tailored to allow an up-close experience with the manatees, either by snorkeling in the water or observing them from a boat.

So if you are visiting Florida, why not join us for a tour around their natural habitat. The experience is both thrilling and relaxing, and you will have memories for a lifetime.

For more information on manatees and manatee tours, 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.

You might also like to read about