Manatees In Danger Essay

1915 words - 8 pages

An essay on manatees, and the danger of them becoming extinct "Great Essay, Will. Needs a little refinement"Manatees:Quietly, but swiftly, the plump, dark animal glided across the water while making sounds comparable to that of the squeaks and squeals of a whale ('Florida Manatee' 1). Some would say these aquatic mammals are the ugliest thing below the surface, others would say that these animals are beautiful and resemble portly mermaids, but no matter what anybody says about the manatees, they are unique creatures (Ray and Ciampi 315). They are mammals that are completely harmless, they feed mostly on sea grass and sometimes small underwater creatures like shrimp (Berrill 212). It is a shame for these creatures to be on the endangered species list.Looking at the physical aspect, these animals are incredibly uncommon, and like no other creature on earth. These majestic beasts can float across the water amazingly fast for its size ('Florida Manatee' 1). They can weigh up to a ton, and get as long as fifteen feet. They are almost devoid of hair, except for some whiskers on their face, and they have internal ears on the sides of their head. Their nostrils are closed by valves, so they can accomplish such feats as flips and quick turns without losing any air. Manatees have no hind legs, but instead one big, flat, spatula-like tail (Sentman 327). This feature made people confuse manatees with mermaids for nearly four centuries (O'Shea 66).Many biologists say that manatees possibly originated or evolved from ungulates such as elephants and cows because of the way that they are built, and certain features that they have in common. Like elephants, manatees have the peculiar half-moon shaped fingernails, and thick, wrinkled skin. Manatees also shares some traits with cows. The way the manatees spend all day lazily grazing on the ocean floor is incredibly similar to the behavior of cows at a pasture (Breeden 58).Manatees eat an outrageous amount of food, they consume approximately ten percent of their body weight daily. The large quantities that the manatees eat is another one of its unique qualities ('Florida Manatee' 1). People use the manatees as natural 'underwater lawn mowers', setting them free in lakes that have too much sea grass or plants. The manatees consequently eat up the vegetation, which frees up space to allow other wildlife to inhabit the lake. Manatees are also used to clear up canals and irrigation rivers that are clogged with an extreme amount of aquatic plants ('Manatee Facts' 1). The large diet can also be a disadvantage. With the amount of vegetation in manatee habitats decreasing tremendously, the manatees are in danger of starving to extinction. The underwater plants do not survive because of man's harmful deeds such as pollution, erosion caused by deforestation, and draining wetlands for the building of coastal homes. Since the 1970's, in Tampa Bay alone, eighty percent of sea-grass beds have vanished due to these causes (O'Shea...

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