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Also known as sea cows, manatees are large, fully aquatic mammals, peaceful and slow plant-eaters that resemble cows on land, and are also described as graceful swimmers despite their massive size.
See the fact file below for more information on the manatees or alternatively, you can download our 21-page Manatees worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Manatees belong to the genus Trichechus, under the order Sirenia which is under the kingdom Animalia.
- Three out of four species of manatee are under the order Sirenia.
- These species are Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis), West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), and West African manatee (Trichechus senegalensis).
- Manatees are large marine mammals with an egg-shaped head, flippers, and a flat tail.
- Manatees are known as sea cows due to their large stature, slow nature, and propensity to be eaten by other animals.
- Manatees’ size can range from 8 feet to 13 feet, and they can weigh from 200 to 590 kilograms or 440 to 1,300 pounds.
- Manatees can swim at about 5 miles per hour, but when they feel the need to swim fast, they can swim at up to about 15 miles per hour.
- Manatees only have six cervical vertebrae, a simple stomach, and a large cecum.
- Manatees never leave the water, but they must breathe air at the surface like every other marine mammal.
- Manatees may remain submerged for up to 15 minutes, but they have to surface every three or four minutes.
- Manatees often swim alone or in pairs, and they are not territorial so there is no need for a leader or for followers.
- Manatees are often seen in groups when they are in a mating herd or when they are having an informal meeting by simply sharing a warm area that has a large food supply.
- A group of manatees is called an aggregation. Usually, an aggregation consists of up to six manatees.
- Manatees are herbivores. They eat over 60 different freshwater plants such as floating hyacinth, pickerel weed, alligator weed, water lettuce, and musk grass, and saltwater plants such as sea grasses, shoal grass, sea clover, and marine algae.
- Manatees feed by using their flippers to look for edible plants. Once they have found a plant to eat, they use their flippers to scoop the plant towards their mouth.
- Manatees have prehensile lips, where their upper lip is divided into
two sides, left and right.
- The left and right sides of the upper lip move independently.
- Manatees’ lips use seven muscles in order to manipulate and tear plants.
- Manatees use a wide range of sounds to communicate. Adult manatees communicate to maintain contact and during sexual behaviors.
- Although manatees’ ears have small openings, they are large internally and are located behind each eye.
- Manatees typically stay in rivers, seas, and oceans along the coast.
- Amazonian manatees inhabit the Amazon River and its tributaries.
- West Indian manatees prefer warmer temperatures and they live in the southern and eastern parts of the United States.
- African manatees live along the coast and in the rivers of western Africa.
- A female manatee is called a cow, while a male manatee is called a bull.
- During mating, cows are followed around by a dozen or more bulls.
- This group of bulls is called a mating herd.
- Once done mating, a bull does not concern itself anymore with the young manatee.
- Cows are pregnant for about 12 months.
- A baby manatee is called a calf.
- Calves are born underwater and their mothers help them get to the surface of the water.
- In just the first hour of life, calves learn how to swim on their own.
- A young manatee reaches sexual maturity in five years, and is already ready to have its own young.
- Manatees usually live for about 40 years.
- The main causes of deaths of manatees are human-related issues, such as destruction of their habitats or causes due to human objects.
- Manatees can also die due to natural causes. Some of these include adverse temperatures, predation on young manatees by crocodiles, and disease.
- Another cause of death of manatees is red tides.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature listed all three species of manatees as vulnerable or endangered and facing a high risk of extinction on their Red List of Threatened Species.
- The name “manatee” comes from the word manatí which means “breast”, which is from the Taíno, a pre-Columbian Caribbean people.
- Manatees’ eyesight is good despite their eyes being small in size.
- Manatees do not have front teeth, they only have marching molars, and these molars are constantly replaced throughout their life in order to adapt to their abrasive vegetation diet.
- Algae often grows on manatees’ skin.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the manatees across 21 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Manatees worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the manatees which are large, fully aquatic mammals, peaceful and slow plant-eaters that resemble cows on land, and are also described as graceful swimmers despite their massive size.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Manatees Facts
- Get to Know
- Label Them
- Story Time
- Think More
- Compare the Two
- Three Species
- What to Do?
- Let’s Do Something!
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Link will appear as Manatees Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, April 20, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.