Weird Nature 15 Amazing Facts About Manatees - The Sea Cows Of Our Hearts  

Cynthia Griffith
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While their path to recovery is still underway, the manatee population has increased dramatically over the last decade with more than 13,000 of these sweet animals now swimming about, compared to only 1,267 in the '90s. The story behind the endangered manatee is one of trial, triumph, and historical significance - and it’s one that humans are most certainly part of.

Due to their gentle nature and aquatic grazing habits, manatees have been given the adorable nickname "sea cows." In reality, though, they have the heart of elephants. Some of these facts about manatees may surprise you, but all in all, these gentle giants are guaranteed to tickle your funny bone. Manatees from the river to the bay might have moved up a notch on the endangered species list, but they’re still in desperate need of help. Read on to learn more about manatees, their docile nature, and their strength.

Manatees Have Been Removed From The Endangered Species List


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Photo:  Pixabay

As a testament to global conservation efforts, the majestic creature known as the manatee has been removed from the endangered species list as of March 2017. The astounding revival of the manatee population has taken the world by storm, but not everybody is jumping for joy just yet. While the number of sea cows floating around is back up in the thousands, many conservationists feel that the downgrade from "endangered" to "threatened" could adversely affect global efforts to save the species. In short, this downgrade could result in the dropping of certain protections that have greatly benefited them. 

These Resilient Animals Consume 10 Percent Of Their Body Weight In A Single Day


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Photo:  Wikimedia

There’s a reason why these sea creatures are compared to cows. Like cows, they graze on a fanciful herbal diet all day long - the only difference is that they sample the greenery growing under water. So, just how much aquatic vegetation does it take to sustain one manatee? Well, it depends on how much they weigh.

A large manatee, like the West Indian Manatee who hits the scale at about 1,300 pounds, consumes nearly 130 pounds of food each day. An Amazonian Manatee on the other hand, who weighs about 760 pounds, would only need to eat around 76 pounds worth of sea grass in a day. As a whole, members of the manatee community are estimated to consume 10 to 15 percent of their own body weight in a single day.

Their Beautiful Hearts Are Round At The Bottom


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Photo:  Wikimedia

There’s no denying that the manatee is rather unique. This gentle giant’s body is extraordinarily shaped - all the way down to its heart. Like its distant cousin, the elephant, the majestic manatee’s heart rounds out on the bottom rather than coming to a point like most other mammalian hearts do. In addition to being different in shape, a manatees heart is also amazing because of its size. The average manatee has a heart the size of a basketball! That’s a whole lot of love to give.

Manatees Can Hold Their Breath For 20 Minutes At A Time


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Photo:  Flickr

Manatees are anatomically unique in several ways - and one of their coolest features is their lungs, which allow them to hold their breath for up to 20 minutes at a time. That’s pretty impressive as far as mammals go. Their secret? A manatee's lungs run the full length of their bodies, enabling them to recycle up to 90% of their oxygen intake. They also possess two distinct hemidiaphragms that work with their strong abdominal muscles to compress gas and improve their roll, pitch, and buoyancy simultaneously.