The Florida Manatee is one of Florida’s most loved native animals. Here are a few facts about the Florida Manatee that you may be surprised to learn:

The Ocean’s Largest Herbivore

Florida manatees may look frightening due to their size, but this gentle giant doesn’t bite—tt’s teeth are just for chewing on seagrass! The manatee is the ocean’s largest herbivore, meaning it doesn’t eat any meat, unlike other large sea animals like whales. Manatees are generally about 10 feet long and around 1,000 lbs but they can grow up to 13 feet and around 3,500 lbs!

Elephants, Sea Cows, or Mermaids?

The Florida Manatee has many descriptors and names! But which one is most accurate? Well, it depends on how you look at it. Surprisingly, manatees are more closely related to elephants than other underwater creatures. However, they often get the name “sea cow” due to the fact that they are underwater grazers— eating more than 60 underwater plant species! And how does the mermaid nickname fit in? Well, Christopher Columbus said he saw 3 mermaids on his trip to the Americas and it turns out that was likely just a manatee sighting!

A Threatened Species

The Florida Manatee used to be one of Florida’s most endangered species, with only a few hundred manatees still alive. Fortunately, by 2017, manatees were delisted from the endangered species list thanks to decades of conservation work. However, manatees are still a threatened species in Florida due to human interference polluting the waters they call home and boating accidents that kill hundreds and sometimes thousands of manatees every year.

Protecting Florida’s Native Species

To keep Florida Manatees and other threatened and endangered species alive and thriving in Florida, it’s important to respect and preserve their habitat. Places like Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours work hard to keep Florida’s native species safe by preserving land, providing eco-friendly tours, and educating the public about Florida’s native flora and fauna. To learn more about Babcock Ranch Eco-Tours or schedule a tour to see Florida’s amazing wildlife, visit the Babcock Ranch Eco-Tour website.