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Manatee Appreciations Day
Manatee Appreciation Day on the Last Wednesday in March focuses the world’s attention on an herbivore with no known natural enemy. Also known as the sea cow, manatees are a vulnerable species due to their contact with humans. Boating and pollution, as well as other external forces, threaten the manatee.
These slow-moving herbivores inhabit slow rivers, canals, saltwater bays, estuaries, and coastal areas around the world. All three species of manatees are considered gentle giants, spending most of their time eating, sleeping, and traveling.
- Amazonian – Inhabiting the Amazon River Basin in northern South America, this species lives exclusively in freshwater.
- West Indian – This species includes two subspecies – the Florida Manatee and the Antillean manatee. The Florida manatee ranges from the Caribbean and up the coast of Florida toward North Carolina. They have also been spotted near Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. The West Indian manatee prefers slow-moving freshwater but is also found in saltwater, too.
- African Manatee – Inhabiting both salt and freshwater, the West African manatee travels all along the West African coastline. While mostly a herbivore, the West African manatee also occasionally eats fish.
Manatees weigh between 300-540 kg (600-1200 lbs) and live up to 60 years. Spending most of their time underwater, unpolluted habitats are vital to their survival. While they do surface occasionally to replenish their oxygen, manatees can remain submerged for about 20 minutes at a time. When they do surface, they are capable of replenishing 90 percent of the air in their lungs. By comparison, humans only replace about 10 percent.
More Manatee Facts:
- Belonging to the scientific order, Sirenia, they are also related to the dugong.
- Manatees are related to the elephant.
- Due to their immense size, they graze up to 8 hours a day.
- Manatees continually replace their teeth. A new set is always growing behind the current set of teeth.
The observance aims to bring awareness to some of the manatees’ most significant challenges. Due to loss of habitat, pollution, hunting, and climate change, manatee numbers are declining. While conservation efforts have brought the manatee back from the brink of extinction, more must be done.
HOW TO OBSERVE MANATEE APPRECIATION DAY
- Learn more about this amazing water mammal.
- Support saving their habitat.
- Take precautions while boating to prevent harming the manatee.
- Read a book about manatees.
- While celebrating National Manatee Appreciation Day, be sure to use #ManateeApprecicationDay to post on social media.