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West Indian Manatee

The West Indian Manatee is a large, gray, nearly hairless, walrus-like aquatic mammal. Adults may reach more than 10 feet in length and weigh more than 1200 lbs.  Manatees are found in Florida’s coastal waters, bays, rivers, and (occasionally) lakes where they feed on aquatic plants. During cold weather, they require warm-water refuges such as springs. Sheltered coves are important for feeding, resting, and calving.

Estimating the total population is difficult because manatees may be dispersed over a wide area of the coast. Counts are done from aircraft during the winter when individuals are concentrated at warm water refuges. Several factors make these counts unreliable for determining population trends, but the overall population may currently be stable. Nevertheless manatees are threatened by increased boat traffic and other accidents associated with expanding development in Florida. Sanctuaries have been established to protect some wintering and calving areas.


Florida Natural Areas Inventory's Online Field Guide to the Rare Plants and Animals of Florida

Detailed descriptions, photographs, drawings, maps, habitat information, and management guidelines for more than 200 rare plant species and 150 rare animal species.

FNAI Field Guide for the West Indian Manatee


Florida Manatee Management Program, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission

This website provides an overview of the myriad programs, initiatives, and strategies implemented to protect and conserve manatees.

Visit the FWC Florida Manatee Program Website


USGS Florida Integrated Science Center Sirenia Project

The Sirenia Project conducts long-term, detailed studies on the life history, population dynamics, and ecological requirements of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). Sirenia Project biologists work cooperatively with federal and state researchers and managers on research identified as essential for the recovery of the species.

Visit the Sirenia Project Website


Save the Manatee Club, Florida Manatee Status Statement Manatee Population Status Working Group

Save the Manatee Club is a membership-based, national nonprofit organization. The organization supports public awareness and education projects, manatee research, rescue and rehabilitation efforts, and advocacy and legal action in order to ensure better protection for manatees and their habitat.

Visit the Save the Manatee Club Website

More About The Florida Manatee

  • Climate Change and Manatees

    by Defenders of Wildlife
    Researchers suggest that the increasing likelihood of larger and more frequent hurricanes from global warming raises the odds against manatees' survival.

    Read More

  • Save the Manatee Club

    Save the Manatee Club¿s mission is to protect endangered manatees and their aquatic habitat for future generations. The Club was founded in 1981 by former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett.

    Read More

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