Sea Cow Facts

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Manatees are an endangered species.
Manatees are an endangered species. (Image: manatee,sea cow,mammal,water,river,homosassa sprin image by Earl Robbins from Fotolia.com)

Manatees are often referred to as sea cows, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center. The scientific name for the sea cow is Trichechus manatus latirostris. Sea cows are an endangered species. There are only a few thousand sea cows left on earth, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center. Threats to sea cows include extensive development of coastal areas, irresponsible recreational and commercial boating practices, poor water quality, and alteration of wetlands. Sea cows are often killed by boats when they come up to the surface to breathe.

Geography

Sea cows live in rivers, springs and shallow waters in Florida and its surrounding states, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center.

Habitat

The manatee needs to live in warm waters that are at least 62 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center. Manatees live in brackish, saltwater and freshwater. Manatees usually eat sea grass beds. Manatees will return to formerly grazed areas year after year.

Function

Manatees are herbivores and must come to the surface to breathe at least once every three to five minutes, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center. Manatees do not sweat, but instead regulate their body temperature by increasing or decreasing blood flow to certain areas of their body, according to Save the Manatee Club. Manatees are somewhat colorblind, just like sea lions. They can see the colors blue, green and gray, but not red. These mammals are able to distinguish between different levels of brightness.

Size

Adult sea cows weigh approximately 1,000 pounds, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center. These mammals can grow up to 10 feet in length.

Time Frame

Sea cows reach sexual maturity when they’re between 4 and 7 years old, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center. Female sea cows give birth once every two or three years. Usually one sea cow is born at a time, but sometimes two are born. The gestation period is approximately 13 months. Calves will stay with their mothers up to two and a half years. Calves typically weigh between 60 and 80 pounds at birth. These creatures have hair on their body, nurse their young and are warm-blooded, like all mammals. Manatees usually live between 50 and 60 years.

Considerations

If you see an injured manatee you should call the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission at 1-800-432-2046, according to the Manatee Education and Observation Center.

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