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Wisdom Wednesday | Manatees

Shore Buddies Wisdom Wednesday 02/01/2021

Manatees are more closely related to the elephant than they are to other marine creatures. The cow-like creatures are thought to have inspired mermaid legends. Manatees typically come up for air every 5 minutes. However, when it is resting, the aquatic mammal can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes. Manatees swim at an average of 5 miles an hour, which is why algae and barnacles can often be found on the backs of manatees. Manatees don’t have the neck vertebra that most other mammals have, meaning that they must turn their entire bodies if they want to look around. Some manatees spend their lives on the cusp between salty and fresh water. They are able to maintain the correct balance in their bodies through an internal regulation system that works with the kidney to make sure salt concentrations never get too high. This ensures they are able to easily move between the two ecosystems. Manatees are herbivores that munch on seagrass along the seafloor for almost half the day. Their diet is a large part of why manatees are such good indicators of an ecosystem’s health; when manatees are thriving, it means that their immediate environment is flourishing with life. Humans have one round of baby teeth and then if we lose or hurt an adult tooth, a trip to the dentist is in order. Manatees, like their elephant relatives, continuously replace their teeth throughout their lives with the older teeth at the front falling out and new teeth growing in at the back of their mouth.