Endangered Status
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Homosassa Springs


The West Indian manatees have no particular breeding season, but most births seem to occur in spring and early in the summer. They reach breeding maturity between the ages of 3 to 10 years.   Specific areas for mating are not required for West Indian Manatees.  Although during birth they seek out shallow waters.


Photo located at http://cars.er.usgs.gov/pics/manatee/manatee/manatee_53.htmlFemales have an estrous period of about two weeks at this time they are constantly followed by a large herd of  males.  Mating herds can involve up to 20 or more males.  These males escort the female for about  three weeks.  There are periods of frequent and forceful jostling and forceful contact among the individuals. Females apparently mate with multiple males during this two week period.


Females mate with more than one male, and give birth to single calf after a gestation period of 360-390 days.  Twins occur once in a while but not very often. A typical calf weighs roughly 60 pounds and about four feet long. 


Photo located at http://cars.er.usgs.gov/pics/manatee/manatee/manatee_42.htmlThe only long-term bond between the West Indian Manatee is that of a mother and her calf.  Mothers communicate with faint squeaks and grunts to her calf. Born with teeth, calves begin eating vegetation with a few weeks. They nurse underwater for about three minutes at a time from a nipple located behind their mothers forelimb.  The milk glands have no storage sacs, so calves feed frequently for short intervals. The calves remain alongside of their mothers for one to two years. Adoption of an orphaned calf or nursing of multiple calves is very rare among  the West Indian Manatee.