Manatees, The Floating Potatoes Of The Ocean

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Photo credit : Gary Clark and Southern Living (www.southernliving.com)

Manatees, who are also renowned as the gentle giants in the ocean due to its clamorous-free nature were downgraded from the endangered to threatened list in 2017. (Endangered species are nearer to extinction) Moreover, the Manatees are granted with the legal protection with the Endangered Species Act and the Mammal Protection Act as well. In fact, Manatees at least do not belong to any specially recorded predator attack either.

While everything seems perfect beyond expectancy, Florida: the so-called “Capital of Manatees” has recorded 593 deaths of Manatees in 2020 and over 300 deaths only at the beginning of the year 2021, within the first couple of months!

While the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declares that the Manatees are on rebound, the existence of this creature is now supposed to be questioned, along with the downsizing of Manatees. As far as the Florida’s Synoptic Survey is considered, it clearly denotes with statistical evidence that the amount of Manatees existed in 2017 (6,620) has been declined heavily by 2019 up to 5,733.

Meanwhile it necessitates questioning who is to blame on this matter, it further worth the effort, raising the awareness of the world on this gentle creature, who is not capable of raising voice for himself and also to peep into the causes of this tragedy as well as the viable countermeasures to be taken to overcome the situation.

Thereupon, in order to come up with a proper grounding,

Who are Manatees?

Photo credit : Gary Clark and Southern Living (www.southernliving.com)

Manatees are called “Sea Cows” and as stated prior, they are also called “Gentle Giants”.

People more often get shuffled these Manatees with Dugongs who exhibit corresponding features.  This is due to, both the species being belonged to the same order “Serenia”.

But both the creatures carry many different features such as complexion, body shape, and further, Manatees are not loyal mates like the Dugongs & they do not stay with a lifelong partner. And more specifically, Manatees are in three different species as Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), West Indian manatee/ American Manatee (Trichechus manatus) and the African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis) and in common, both the species inherits a tail and two flippers. And this innocent creature has no ability to turn its head like us, due to the unavailability of a vertebra in its neck. Nevertheless, they have their own method of communication with each other.

Manatee grows 8 to 13 feet & weighs 440 to 1,300 pounds usually and relatively a grown Manatee is equal to a six feet man!

Furthermore, Manatees are Mammalians and considered as the possessors of the smallest brains among the marine mammals, compared to its body weight. However in general, it is accepted as a very intelligent creature. And this herbivores creature’s life expectancy is 50 to 60 years under the normal circumstances. The lack of real natural predators and their ability to dwell in water, in response to the counter attacks have been the reasons of this longevity of the Manatees.

Where do the Manatees live?

Basically, Manatees live their entire life in water but once every five minutes, they come to the surface of water for breathing. As Manatees are a migrant species, they can survive in salty water in coastal areas up to a couple of weeks as well, but still they cannot drink that water. Therefore, they have to come back looking for fresh sources of water soon. They are found more often in United States and Florida associating warm waterways. And they live in habitats where the temperature is over 60 degrees and this is why they specially migrate to Florida more often during winter seasons looking for the warmth. The abundance of Manatees during this season has been the reason, Florida to be renowned as the “Manatee Capital of the World”.

What are the Mating Habits of Manatees?

Manatees possess clear-cut genital and anal anatomies below the tails. Therefore, the male and the female Manatees are easy to identify. The female Manatee is called a Cow and the baby Manatee is called a Calf.

Usually, they are sexually matured within five years and thereafter, the female Manatee is followed by a herd of male Manatees and it usually reproduces only once every three years. They do not exhibit lifelong bonds and mate with many partners throughout the life span.  Manatee babies are born under the water and female Manatees support them in taking their first breath, coming on to the surface of water.

Why Manatees are threatened?

As far as the scientists denote, the major cause behind the huge loss of Manatees to the earth is, the starvation and malnutrition!

Manatee is a giant specie who demands up to 100 to 200 pounds of seaweeds and grasses a day! It has been difficult for them to meet this requirement today. Statistics denote that during the year 2020, 46,000 acres of Manatee habitats have been conquered by over developments of the humans and algae blooms!

Moreover, as a catalyst of the water pollution, water quality has been declining and this has affected critically on Manatees lives, habitats and their foodies: sea weeds and grasses equally.

In addition to that, when it comes to this creature, it is so much that curious on things happening around its habitat and responses everything so friendly that they most often face watercraft collisions and hunting. Though hunting has been restricted, imposing rigid rules by the authorities, still no long term remedy has been found for attrition with boats and being entangled to fishing nets. And the cold stress is another cause of death of Manatees, emerged as a result of climate changes.

And trust me, these soft hearted creatures have never recorded any harm to humans throughout the entire history!!

They do have feelings!

They love being around humans and expect to be loved in return.

The veterinarian, Dr. Kendal Harr (UF) once said, “If you have a closer look at these gentle creatures, you will find these innocent human like eyes keep weeping, exactly like infants, being unable to bear the loss of its habitats”.

These innocent tears question all of us, “Am I not worth living hoomans?!”

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