Manatee Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

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November is Manatee Awareness Month. It’s time to celebrate the giant sea cows that call Sanibel Island and Fort Myers home. Follow us as we teach you why manatees are so special. This question and answer cheat sheet will serve as a reminder to protect gentle manatees.

What Are Manatees?

Manatees, sometimes referred to as sea cows, are a large aquatic relative of the elephant. They are herbivorus mammals with paddle-like flippers that dig through plant beds in search of plants and roots to munch on.

How Large are Manatees?

Manatees are huge. They measure up to 13-feet long and can weigh as much as 1,300 pounds.

What Do Manatees Do All Day?

Not much. They spend approximately 50 percent of their day sleeping in the water submerged, surfacing for air every 20 minutes or so. The remainder of their day is spent grazing shallow waters of 3- to 6-feet.

manatee eating sea grass

Manatees munch on more than 60 different freshwater and saltwater plants.

What Do Manatees Eat?

Manatees munch on more than 60 different freshwater and saltwater plants. Using their divided upper lip, adult manatees can eat up to 10 percent to 15 percent of their body weight each day. Manatees also eat a small amount of fish.

How Long Can Manatees Live?

Florida manatees have life spans of up to 60 years in the wild. The oldest living manatee in captivity is Snooty the Manatee, who lives at the South Florida Museum’s Parker Manatee Aquarium in Bradenton, Florida. Born at the Miami Aquarium on July 21, 1948, Snooty is one of the first recorded captive manatee births and will never be released into the wild. Snooty turned 68 this summer.

How do Manatees Communicate?

Manatees produce a wide range of sounds to communicate with each other, especially between mother manatees and their calves. Adult manatees communicate to stay in contact, to play and during sexual behavior patterns. Taste, smell, sight and sound are all believed to be forms of communication for manatees.

Why Are Manatees Endangered?

The main cause for death for manatees is related to humans. Their slow moving ways, combined with their instincts to hide themselves while munching on sea grass, has led to violent and deadly collisions with propeller-driven boats and ships. Many manatees that have survived such collisions have permanent scars on their backs from being struck by propellers.

Boat owners and those that rent boats need to be extra cautious to avoid striking manatees. Manatees are protected by several laws. Locally here in Florida, they are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Florida Manatees Sanctuary Act. It is illegal to harass, hunt or kill these endangered marine mammals.

manatee awareness month image

It’s time to enjoy Manatee Awareness Month by safely navigating a boat near Fort Myers and Sanibel Island.

How Do I Celebrate Manatee Awareness Month?

Manatee Awareness Month is best spent showing your support and affection for the lovable manatees. Educate others about your newfound knowledge of the manatees when you are out on the water this month. You can also work to collect money or donate to organizations that work to protect them, including Save the Manatee Club.

Rent a Boat at Port Sanibel Marina

It’s time to enjoy Manatee Awareness Month by safely navigating a boat near Fort Myers and Sanibel Island, where will you spot lovable manatees. Rent a boat or schedule a fishing charter to enjoy the area and the marine life. Stay for a while and rent a fully furnished condo at Royal Shell Vacation Rentals or Sundial Beach Resort & Spa. Sundial guests receive 30 percent off boat, canoe and kayak rentals. Give us a call today at (239) 437-1660 to plan your boating and watersport activities today!