Sirenia Two

 

The West Indian manatee or “sea cow” is a manatee, and the largest surviving member of the aquatic mammal order Sirenia. The West Indian manatee is a species distinct from the Amazonian manatee and the African manatee.
Scientific name: Trichechus manatus
Size: At birth, calves are three – four feet long and weigh 40 – 60 pounds. Adults manatees average 10 feet in length and weigh 800 – 1,200 pounds.

 

Fun Fact: Sailors once mistook manatees for mermaids. The scientific name for the zoological order manatees belong to, Sirenia, comes from the word “siren,” a legendary beautiful sea creature from Greek mythology whose songs lured sailors to shipwreck.

Conservation Status: Manatees were hunted historically but now are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which prohibits the take of all marine mammals. Today the biggest threats to manatee survival are collisions with boats and loss of warm water springs that provide important habitat, but they are also vulnerable to entanglement in fishing gear, red tide blooms and loss of seagrass beds they feed upon due to pollutants. They are considered endangered and their survival is seen as limited due to their low reproductive rates.

Sources:

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
NatureServe Explorer
Ranger Rick Kids
Sirenian International
Society for Marine Mammology
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Manatee Fact Sheet
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Manatee Species Profile

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