A couple of manatees in love at South jetty, Ft. Pierce, FL
6/24/09 – 563/151
Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris are gentle and slow-moving spending most of their time eating (they are vegetarians), resting or traveling. Manatees can stay submerged for as long as 20 minutes, taking short naps, but when active and using a lot of energy, they may surface every 30 seconds.
With only about 3,807 individuals (as of February 2009) they are listed as endangered. Manatees are related to elephants and found throughout freshwater rivers, springs, and shallow coastal waters of Florida and adjacent states.
The average weight and length is 1,000 pounds and 10 feet, but can reach as much as 3,000 pounds and 13 feet and can live to be 60 years old. At birth calves weigh 66 pounds and are 4 feet long.
Reproduction rate is very slow as females aren’t able to reproduce until they are 5-9 years old and aren’t sexually mature until age nine, then only give birth to one calf every 2 – 5 years. The gestation period is about 13 months and the calves will stay dependent on mom for about 2 years.
The manatee is protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 and the Endangered Species Act of 1973, which make it illegal to harass, hunt, capture, or kill any marine mammal. They are also protected under the Florida Marine Sanctuary Act of 1978 which states “It is unlawful for any person at any time, intentionally or negligently, to annoy, molest, harass or disturb any manatee.”