The Florida Manatee
Facts and Information
The manatee, or sea cow, is one of the world's most unusual and fascinating animals. It is a creature of legend as much as fact.
When Christopher Columbus sighted a manatee in 1493, he apparently mistook the docile, dumpy-looking manatee for a mermaid. Today, we know quite a bit more about the manatee's true nature, that it is a gentle giant which feeds primarily on shallow water sea grass.
In the 1970s, there was a fear among some scientists that manatees might become extinct because of their low numbers, an estimated 700 to 800 animals. New rules to curb boat traffic helped the animals rebound and manatees fared so well they were reclassified from "endangered" to "threatened" under the
federal Endangered Species Act.
By 2021, their population grew to between 5,700 and 7,000 animals. Tragically, 2021 was the year that an estimated 1,100 animals died primarily due to cold and starvation. Pollution is blamed for killing off the sea grass beds in some parts of Florida's East Coast, especially in Brevard County.
Fortunately, manatee viewing remains excellent at many of the fresh water springs and in the Homosassa River.
Where to See Manatees
How Long Have Manatees Been Around?
Why Manatees Were Mistaken for Mermaids
Manatees and Elephants: Close Cousins
Manatee--Where The Name Came From
How Long Do Manatees Live?
Why Manatees Became Endangered
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