Manatee Awareness: Florida’s Gentle Giants
The waters of the St. Johns River and nearby springs are popular to spot manatees here in Florida. And as the air temperature begins to dip, manatee stay close to springs seeking warm water. The month of November is designated as Manatee Awareness Month in hope of better protecting these gentle giants.
Manatees are considered endangered and are protected by law. Boaters will find signs along waterways where manatees are known to swim reminding them to shift to idle speed in these zones.
A Gentle Giant
As a distant relative of elephants, manatees are often referred to as gentle giants because of their bulk, slow moving and non-aggressive nature. Manatees can swim up about 5 miles per hour and travel a distance of 15 miles in short bursts. They use their powerful tail to propel them through the water while using their front flippers to steer.
There’s a lot to know about manatees and their habits. For starters, did you know that while they must breathe air manatees never leave the water. A quick scan of the water’s surface can usually find a nose or two sticking up for a breath. They can hold their breath underwater in excess of 15 minutes.
Manatees can go between freshwater and saltwater and can be found along the eastern U.S. from Florida and south to Brazil in South America along the Amazon River and also on the west coast of Africa. Can you say international?
The manatees found in Florida are known as the West Indian Manatee.
Time to Eat
Manatees like to eat! And they eat a lot! These vegetarians eat grass and other plants found along the shoreline and in the water. If they are not sleeping or swimming, manatees are eating! Manatees are big…usually weighing an average of 1,500 to1,800 pounds as an adult.
In the wild, manatees live an average of 30 to 60 years. Seeing a manatee for the first time in the water or after many times is remains a priceless experience for many. The Blue Springs Park Manatee Refuge is a short boat ride away. Visit us here at Castaways on the River, bring your boat or rent one of ours to see manatees up close. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for updates about the area, check out our website or give us a call at (352) 759-3422.blog comments powered by Disqus