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