Where Do Manatees Live


Where do manatees live?  The answer to that question is an interesting and complex one that takes us into the depths of the oceans.  The habitat of manatees is very diverse, ranging from shallow, slow-moving rivers to saltwater bays and other coastal areas.  Like birds, manatees migrate with the seasons.  In the United States, manatees spend their winters off the coasts of Florida and Alabama.  Sightings of manatees have also been reported in Texas and South Carolina, and manatees are fairly common along the northern cost of South America and in the waterways of Central America. 


Manatees are very slow-moving animals, and they’re complete herbivores.  This plays an important role into the question of “Where do manatees live?”  A manatee’s day pretty much consists of eating, sleeping and traveling.  They eat any underwater plants they can find, eating about 15 percent of their body weight. 


The West Indian variety of manatee can be found in any waterway that’s over three feet deep and connected to the coast.  Some species of the manatee are restricted to fresh water.  For example, the Amazonian manatee lives in floodplain lakes and channels in large river systems.  This warmer water manatee favors water temperatures around 80 degrees.  Typically, manatees migrate to warmer water whenever the temperature of the water drops below 68 degrees.  Popular wintertime destinations for manatees are power plants, especially the power plants that are located off the coast of Florida.  Many manatees also gather in the natural hot springs that are located along the Gulf Coast.  During the dry seasons, manatees migrate downstream or into the deeper parts of rivers. 


Manatees are mammals, which means they breathe air.  However, manatees can stay underwater for long periods of time.  Sometimes manatees will rest at the bottom of whatever body of water they’re hanging out in.  They only need to come up for air about once every three to five minutes, although they can surface as often as once every 30 seconds.  Some manatees that are resting have even been show to spend 20 minutes straight underwater. 


Since manatees are migratory, they also tend to swim very fast, even as fast as 20 miles per hour.  However, they cannot sustain this speed for long periods of time. 


Manatees can live for up to 60 years, and they do not reproduce very quickly.  It can take between five and seven years for manatees to sexually mature.  Experts believe that calves are born about once every two to five years, and only one calf is born at a time. 


The manatee does not have any natural enemies, but the species is dying off at a rapid rate.  Most of the reasons the manatee is dying off are related to causes by humans.  Human beings are the number one reason manatee habitats are disappearing quickly.  Most manatee deaths are caused by collisions with ships, although flood control structures also cause a lot of problems for manatees.  Sometimes manatees also become entangled in crab trap lines.