7 Things You Never Knew About Manatees

Vancouver, BC | Posted: March 27th, 2018

Manatee Facts. 7 Things You Wish You Knew About Manatees just in time for Manatee Appreciate Day!

Updated: Feb 6, 2019

Manatee Facts

Photo Credit: Ryan McClellan/ Oceanic Society

It’s National Manatee Appreciation Day on March 28th, and why shouldn’t it be? We can’t think of a single reason why anyone would not want to celebrate these beautiful, gentle giants of the sea. At SEEtheWILD we love manatees and we’re willing to bet after reading the next 7 manatee facts, you’ll love them too!

1. Did you know they’re vegans!

Not vegetarian lacto-ovo. Not pescatarians. Manatees keep a diet of seagrass from the ocean floor. Their bones are solid, making them heavier so they can easily sink their way to the bottom.

2. Did you know they’re living chia pets?

Ever heard of the expression ‘a rolling stone gathers no moss’? Well, Manatees aren’t stones, nor are they sprouting chia, and they certainly aren’t pets, but they do grow algae all over their bodies (making them resemble those bizarre grassy pets you were gifted as a child). Because manatees move slowly and spend a lot of time in the warmer water at the surface, algae starts to cover their skin as they age. It’s a win-win situation for both the algae and the manatee’s skin.

3. Did you know they can get bigger than two Smart cars?

Fully grown manatees can grow up to 13 feet (almost 4 metres) in length and weigh up to 3500 pounds (1587 kg). That’s big. They also give birth to huge babies weighing between 60 and 70 pounds (27-31 kg). Woah.

4. Did you know they’re super lazy?

They sleep half of the day. Even when they’re coming up for air, they’re likely still sleeping. (We know what we’re coming back as in our next life).

Manatee Facts

West India Manatees of the Crystal River

5. Did you know they just want to be cozy and warm?

Manatees live in bays, estuaries, canals and other shallow bodies of water. The water has to be warm because they actually can’t survive in water colder than 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15.5 degrees Celsius). They prefer it even warmer (probably because it makes them sleepy). Most manatees can live in saltwater and freshwater, except for the Amazonian Manatee who is not down with saltwater.

6. Did you know they’re related to elephants?

Albeit, distantly, Manatees have no relation to any other marine animal. Their closest relative is actually the elephant! You’ll notice that manatees have similar traits to elephants. They have toenails on their fins, trunks, rough skin, hair that covers their bodies and teeth that replace themselves.

7. Did you know they can grow OLD?

Manatees in the wild can live up to 60 years or more! Holy Hannah! The most common causes of death are human related, which is super sad. As humans, we can do better so that these adorable “sea cows” can live the long, lazy life they are designed to!

How is that for a list of Manatee Facts?

If you have others you think we should add, please send us a note over social media or drop a note through the contact form.

Organizations like the Oceanic Society dedicate their lives to helping sea life. Oceanic Society has been an advocate for conservation since 1969. They put together fun, educational, family friendly research & conservation trips. If you’re from the USA, the expedition fee is also tax-deductible, how’s that for an added incentive? If you’d like to know how you can help with manatee conservation, check out these awesome programs:

Other notable mentions:

Make sure to follow Oceanic Society to keep up with new expeditions, news and research efforts. Like them on Facebook, follow them on Twitter and Instagram.


Sarah Lafontaine

Sarah is a travel writer, citizen of the world and lover of the Pacific Northwest and tacos. When not writing she can be found searching for her next travel destination or exploring with her dog, Otto. Read about her adventures on her blog Sarah Seize the World and follow her on Instagram @sarahseizetheworld


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