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Citrus County Florida

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Citrus County Manatees
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Citrus County Manatees

Manatee Facts

The manatees found here in Citrus County are West Indian manatees. Below is some information about them.

Species Name:
West Indian Manatee

Description:
A large, seal-like body that tapers to a spatulate tail. Two forelimbs with three or four nails on each. Skin is thick and wrinkled with stiff whiskers on upper lip.

Color:
Gray or gray-brown.

Size:
Manatees can grow to 13 feet and weight over 3,000 pounds.

Behavior:
Gentle and slow moving. Most of their time is spent eating, resting, and in travel. Often shy and reclusive. No system of defense and completely harmless.

Sight:
Depth perception may be limited. Can differentiate colors.

Hearing:
Manatees can hear very well despite the absence of external ear lobes.

Communication:
Manatees emit sounds that are within human auditory range. They make sounds such as squeaks and squeals when frightened, playing or communicating, particularly between a cow and its calf.

Breathing:
Nostrils are on the upper surface of the snout which close tightly like valves when submerged. Surfaces to breathe every few minutes depending upon amount of activity.

Habitat:
They can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas, particularly where seagrass beds flourish.

Range:
Within the United States, they are concentrated in Florida during the winter, but can be found in summer months as far west as Louisiana and as far north as Virginia and the Carolinas. The West Indian manatee can also be found in the coastal and inland waterways of Central and South America as far south as Recife, Brazil.

Food Source:
Aquatic plants. Manatees are completely herbivorous and can eat 10-15% of their body weight daily.

History:
Manatees are believed to have evolved from a wading, plant-eating animal, and share a common ancestor with the elephant.

Related Species:
West African manatee, Amazonian manatee, dungong, Steller's sea cow (extinct).

Population:
There are approximately 2,400 West Indian manatees left in the United States.

Reproduction:
Females are probably not reproductive mature until 5 to 9 years old and males not until 6 to 9 years old. It is believed that one calf is born every 2 to 5 years. Twins are rare in the wild. Gestation period is around 13 months.

Problems:
Human Related: boat / barge collisions, loss of habitat, crushing or drowning in flood gates, poaching, ingestion of fish hooks and monofilament line, entanglement in crab trap lines, pollution.
Natural: Cold related, "red tide".

Conservation:
Public acquisition and/or creation of sanctuaries in critical areas; research covering biology, mortality, behavior, habitat, and population; implementation of management plans; establishment of regulatory speed zones and the levying of fines for excess speeds in these designated areas; posting of regulatory speed signs in habitat areas; a Manatee Hotline 1-888-404-FWCC(3922) for reports of dead or injured animals or manatee harassment; manatee education and public awareness programs.

The above information has been provided courtesy of The Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. We thank them.

Want More?
Visit the Homossasa Springs State Wildlife Park Web Site for extensive, extensive manatee information.