The manatee is a large and heavy animal. The manatee lives in the sea, hence the name “lake” cow. It lives along the east coast of North America, in the Caribbean Sea and on the northern shores of South America. The manatee swims in both salt water and fresh water. It also lives along the coast, in fjords, lagoons and rivers and may therefore be lucky to encounter it when traveling to Sri Lanka .
Facts about the search cow
|Asia, North and South America
|45 to 60 years
|250-450 centimeters long
|Lonely sailors often confused sea cows with mermaids, because for confusion they may well look like a fat lady swimming in the sea surface.
The manatee is a large and heavy one of its kind, with a fighting weight between 200 to 600 kilos. The manatee will be between 2.50-4.50 meters long. Copies have been found of a giant manatee that weighed 1500 kilos – but this was also quite unusual. Males and females are equal in size. The manatee has a gray wrinkled skin with very few hairs that grow slightly around the entire body. Its gray skin is thick, but its fat layer is very thin if you compare it to seals and whales. Otherwise, the body is streamlined with a very large head, small eyes and a mouth that faces very downward. Often the manatee is green on the back. This is because algae grow on its back. The algae help the manatees to camouflage themselves on the bottom. The manatee can close its nostrils and narrow its eyes underwater.
The manatee eats plants, and is therefore a herbivore. It eats large amounts of plants every day, corresponding to 10% of its body weight – which is 20 to 50 kilos. The aquatic plants it eats find it down to a depth of 4 meters. The manatee can also eat molluscs that sit on the plants, or dead fish that are easily accessible to it. The manatee eats both the leaves and roots of the aquatic plants, where the roots give it a lot of energy. The manatee spends about 6 to 8 hours every day searching for food. Since there is not much nutrition in plants, it is forced to eat large amounts.
When the female is ready to mate, she emits odors underwater. These smells pick up the males quickly and after a short time she has many males swimming behind her. It has been observed that as many as 17 males have chased one female at a time, to mate with her. The males can pursue the females for up to a month, after which she chooses one. The female goes pregnant for 12-13 months, where she gives birth to one or two pups every two or three years. The baby is 120-130 cm long and weighs 28-36 kilos when it is born. Even when the baby is half a day old, it can swim and even come to the surface. The young suckle for 1.5 years, and when it is 1-2 months old, it also begins to eat plants. The baby only leaves the mother when it is 2 years old. The male is sexually mature when he is 2 years old, where the female is only sexually mature when she is 3-4 years old.
The manatee lives differently depending on the sex. The male usually lives alone, and only meets with the female when mating. The female almost always has one or two cubs next to her, which she swims with and tries as best she can to raise. Sometimes the manatees swim in larger groups. This happens especially when there is plenty of food in one specific area or the males are after one female, to mate her.
The manatee is an order of mammals. Manatees are divided into two families – the manatees and the dugongs. There are a total of four species of manatees. The four species are the West Indian manate, the West African manate, the amazonas manate and the dugong. The manatee’s closest relative should not be found in water, but on land. The manatee is in no way related to cows. They got their name because you could almost say that the manatee is grazing on the bottom of the water it is in.
Its food is therefore the reason why it is compared to cows that also spend most of its waking hours grazing. Manatees are instead closely related to elephants. The elephant is like the manatee, gray in the skin and has a slow strolling way of getting on. It was their common set of teeth that revealed the connection. The manatee has features of the tusks that the elephants grow. The manatee is the only marine mammal that feeds almost exclusively on plants. Other mammals also feed on insects, fish and small reptiles in the water, which the manatee will never prefer.
Travelers’ questions about the sea cow
Where does the manatee live?
The manatee lives in North, Central and South America along the coasts.
They are therefore far around America, some manatees have also swum from the coast of South America and 230 kilometers up into a river in Florida, USA. The manatee prefers to live in some water that is at least 20 degrees warm. Due to its thin layer of fat, it can only live in tropical and subtropical gardens. In addition, manatees only swim in water that is 3-5 meters deep – they will never swim out on water that is deeper than 6 meters. The manatee lives in water, where it can be submerged for 20 minutes before it has to get up and have air.
Does the manatee swim fast?
No – the manatee swims very slowly.
The normal pace of the manatee is 3 to 7 kilometers per hour. However, it can swim up to 25 kilometers per hour if it is scared and needs to get away quickly. However, the most normal pace for a sea cow is still at 3-7 kilometers, which is slow.
Does the sea cow speak?
No – the manatee does not speak
The manatee does not talk, but instead communicates by screaming. The manatee is often silent, and you will therefore only in rare cases be able to hear it. However, it can emit different screams. The manatee screams when it is scared, has conflicts or plays. The female and the pup also communicate by making small noises and by touching each other.