Where in the Ocean Do Manatees Live?

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Manatees live in shallow parts of the ocean where sunlight is able to penetrate the water and encourage sea grass growth. Learn how to protect manatees from boat strikes in shallow bays with tips from a science teacher in this free video on animal habitats.

Part of the Video Series: Animal Habitats
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Video Transcript

They're a highly endangered species, and the only herbivores, plant eaters, of the marine mammals. It's the manatee. I'm Janice Creneti. I'm an environmental science teacher, living in Florida, one of the few places in which manatees still exist, and I'm here to answer the question "Where do manatees live in the ocean?" Well again, the answer is all based on the fact that manatees are herbivores. The only marine mammal that is actually a plant eater. So first we have to understand where in the ocean do plants grow. Well plants need sun light to survive, so that means that they have to live in shallower areas of water where the sun light can penetrate. No sun light, no photosynthesis, no plants. Manatees, as big as they are, easily reaching 1,000 pounds, eat only sea grass. That's pretty amazing. And it takes a lot of sea grass as you can imagine to keep this big animal afloat. So manatees live in the shallow areas of the ocean. Coastal areas. Bays where the water is shallow enough for the sea grass to actually grow. This is the reason why manatees are so prone, one of their number one killers, which is boat strikes. Manatees have to live in this very shallow area because that's where the grasses are that they feed off of. And as you can see their large, heavy bodies aren't exactly streamlined. It's very difficult for them to move quickly. So because they're in shallow water, and they don't move very fast, it's almost impossible for them to get out of the way of an oncoming boat. So if you live in a place like Florida where these few manatees still survive, there's a couple of things that you can do to watch out for them. First, always obey speed zones. They're there for a reason. Second, wear polarized sunglasses which will allow you to see the manatees that are just below the surface. And you can even keep an eye out for the very tips of their snouts which will sometimes be sticking out of the water. They're a highly endangered species that we're working very hard to save here in Florida. I'm Janice Creneti, and this is "Why do manatees live where they live in the ocean?"


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