Endangered Status
Interesting Facts
Meet the Creator
Homosassa Springs


Length: 12-15 feet

Weight: 500- 3,500 lbs

Weight at Birth: 44 lbs

Length at Birth: 3.3 - 4 feet

Color: Gray or Brown with sparse white hairs

Gestation Period: 12-13 months

Longevity:  Up to 60 years

Population:  3,116 (counted in 2006)

Closest Relative: The elephant (African and Asian)

The shape of the skull, jaw are very similar.  Some other shared characteristics include, skin color and texture, the arrangement of hair.  The West Indian Manatees flat flipper and their flat nails are closely similar to an elephant's feet.














The Snout: Upper lip is deeply cleft and contains stiff sensitive bristles

The Teeth: The manatee may lose up to thirty teeth during its lifetime; since the teeth get replaced often they always have sharp chewing structures

The Front Flippers: Extremely flexible that contain four fingernails.  The flippers are used to push food into the mouth, touch other manatees, and aid with movement

The Tail: Large broad paddle like structure.  Flipping it up and down to move through the water

The Eyes: Not very good eyesight for the aquatic environment

The Ear: Tiny external ear openings which allow for their excellent hearing because they have extremely large ear bones

The Skin:  Store large amounts of fat as blubber just under skin


The Digestive System

Even though manatees are aquatic mammals they exclude most of the water when they swallow their food.  This makes the contents of their stomach dry.  Manatees have large salivary glands for lubrication and initial digestion to help with this problem.  Manatees are hind-gut digesters (like horses) compared to fore-gut digesters (like cows).  Because they digest their food this way the digestive processes occur further down the intestinal tract.  This can take up to seven days for ingested material to pass through the entire digestive system.

The Circulatory System

This is very important in transporting heat and regulating body temperature.  A manatees heart is very similar to a human heart with 4 chambers and 2 circuits.  One circuit travels from the heart to the lungs and then back to the heart, and the other circuit travels from the heart to the tissues and back to the heart.  This type of circulation is very efficient because there is no mixing of the oxygenated and deoxygenated blood. 

The Urinary System

Since manatees live in both fresh and salt water their kidneys are very important.  The kidneys act to filter the blood to maintain a balance of salt and water.  Their urine is stored in the bladder until it needs to be released.