The Sea Mermaid: Manatees Essay

1151 words - 5 pages

If a solution is not found, manatees will be completely wiped extinct from the planet. The manatee is a large, aquatic, mammal with two large flippers. The average adult is about 10 feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds. Manatees are also known as sea cows; they have a wrinkled head and face with a whiskered snout. The manatees’ closest related relatives are the elephant and the hyrax. Manatees have been on the states endangered list since 1979, but their biggest threats are humans. While some people are extreme manatee conservationists, others could care less about whether this marine mammal becomes extinct, or not. To prevent the extinction of manatees, one should know the history of the animal, its way of life, and methods of conservation.
What are manatees? “West Indian manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout” (“Manatee Facts” 1).
These mammals are large enough to be mistaken for whales. Manatees are sea cows. They rather resemble a cow, with their fat bodies (“Manatee” 1). Despite their bulk, these “sea cows” are graceful swimmers in coastal waters and rivers. There are three species of manatee, distinguished by where they live. One manatee population ranges along the North American east coast from Florida to Brazil. Other species inhabit the Amazon River and the west coast and rivers of Africa. The location of where these animals live has a huge effect on the death rate of these animals. Motorboats often hit gentle beasts in ever more crowded waters, entangling them in their nets (“Manatee”1). Ultimately, loss of habitat is the most serious threat facing manatees in the United States today. There is a minimum population count of 4,834 manatees as of January 2011, according to the most recent synoptic survey. Human related situations cause most manatee deaths (“Manatee Facts” 1). Along with the fact the death rate of manatees is going up, they do not reproduce often enough to keep the manatee population strong. A manatee is born only every 2 to 5 years (“Manatee Facts” 1). Therefore, manatees do not reproduce very often. They cannot physically reproduce until the age of five. Overall, manatees are large aquatic mammals that live in slow moving water.
The manatee has a very interesting way of life. Without any natural enemies, manatees can live up to 60 years or more (“Manatee Facts” 2). Most aquatic mammals are limited to only one kind of water, whereas, the manatee who can live in fresh, salt, or brackish waters. Brackish water is a mixture of both fresh and salt waters. Manatees live in shallow, slow-moving water. They spend most of their time eating, resting, and traveling (“Manatee Facts” 2). The vegetarian lifestyle of the manatee helps a lot with its health level; therefore, helping maintain a high level of hygiene....

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