Saturday, December 5, 2015

Manatee Season is on its way!

The Florida manatee is a native species found in all parts of the State. Protections for Florida manatees were first enacted in 1893.  Today, they are protected by the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act, Florida Statutes and are federally protected by both the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act.

Manatees are herbivores, which means they eat plants. Also known as a "sea cow," manatees usually spend up to eight hours a day grazing on seagrasses and other aquatic plants. A manatee can consume up to 10 percent of its body weight in aquatic vegetation daily. The manatee uses its muscular lips to tear plants much like an elephant uses its trunk.

Manatees are mammals. They must surface approximately every five minutes to breathe, but can hold their breath for as long as twenty minutes when resting. The manatee's nose is usually the only part of its body that comes out of the water when it breathes.  If they are using a lot of energy, they may surface to breathe as often as every 30 seconds. Manatees rest from 2 to 12 hours a day either suspended near the water's surface or lying on the bottom, usually for several hours at a time.