U.S Fish and Wildlife Services


The Trichechus manatus has a large area it can call home. As seen in orange on the map below, the T.manatus is typically found in waters on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean sea and down to central eastern Brazil. In rare cases it has also been spotted as far north as Rhode Island and as far south as Uruguay. T. manatus is most common in tropical regions due to their low metabolic rate and lack of thick layer of insulating fat (Olivera-Gomez, 2000). These attributes make it difficult for the manatee to keep itself warm in colder waters, which is why manatees are exclusively located in waters over 20° Celsius (Garcia-Rodriguez, 1998). Some manatees living in the northern areas are forced to migrate south to warmer waters in the winter months (Garcia-Rodriguez et al., 1998). In marine environments the T. manatus is most common on the coastal areas because it prefers waters not deeper than six meters (Olivera-Gomez, 2000) The shallow nature of the T.manatus habitat has had an adverse effect on their populations. More than 30% of the yearly recorded fatalities of manatees comes from encounters with boats in coastal regions (Nowacek et al., 2004). It is for this reason that T. manatus have been declared endangered by the U.S Department of Fish and Wildlife Services. 
Map of Manatee habitat

The map to the left shows T. manatus lives in primarily in marine environments but it can call freshwater streams home as well. T. manatus have the ability to live in both marine and freshwater because they have the ability to withstand large changes in salinity, and therefore can swim freely between marine and freshwater environments(Olivera-Gomez, 2000).


If you would like to continue and learn about the diet of Trichechus manatus click here. Or to learn more about how T. manatus interacts with other species click here. Return to the home page