Manatee Trichechus manatus latirostris
Adult Florida Manatees are an average of 300-400 cm in length
and weigh under 500 kg, though individuals may be between 250
- 450 cm and weigh anywhere from 200 - 600 kg. Females may be
bulkier than males, but there is no data indicating a size difference
dependent on gender. The gray or brown skin in covered with
fine wrinkles and sparsely distributed fine, colorless wiry
hairs which are 30-45 mm long. There is a prehensile pad on
the upper lip which is covered with short and stiff bristly
hair. The head is broad and the snout downturned. There are
nails on the dorsal surface of the flippers.
This species is found in coastal waters, bays, lagoons and estuaries
in both fresh and salt water. It may prefer fresh water, and
congregate near hot springs or power plant discharge sites during
are herbivorous, but often ingest small invertebrates which
may provide an important source of protein. In captivity, T.
manatus latirostris has been known to consume up to one
fourth its body weight per day in wet greens. This manatee is
primarily a solitary and nomadic animal traveling established
routes over hundreds of kilometers. The channels used are usually
2 meters or more in depth and the manatees like to swim at a
depth of 1-3 meters. Speeds average between 3-7 km/hr, but 25
km/hr may be obtained when necessary.
There seems to be no specific breeding season and during estrus
a single female may be accompanied by as many as 17 males. There
is often vigorous pushing and shoving between the males to gain
a position next to the female and this may be the only time
there is any aggressive behavior exhibited among the species.
Generally, one calf is born after a 13 month gestation period.
The interval between births is about 2.5 years, unless a calf
is lost. The only lasting bond between manatees appears to be
that established by mother and calf. At birth, the newborn is
120-130 cm long and weighs 28-36 kg. The darkly colored baby
is capable of swimming and surfacing on its own within a half
day of birth, but occasionally rides on its mother’s back.
Weaning occurs when the offspring leaves its mother, at 1 or
2 years of age, but can taker vegetation at 1-3 months. Males
reach sexual maturity at 9-10 years of age, females at 8-9 years.
T. manatus latirostris is found in the Caribbean coastal
areas and river systems from Virginia, USA to Espirito Santo,