The student news site of Cypress Ranch High School

Saving The Manatees

October 18, 2019

Manatees were recently endangered large, hippo-like sea creatures that are very social and friendly. They’re almost like the pandas of the ocean, as they are very kind to humans and other creatures since they have no real ways to fight people or other threatening animals. The only defense mechanism is to stay in shallow water to where larger predators cannot follow them, or where humans/other animals can help them if they need it. The manatees were endangered due to loss of their natural ecosystems and loss of warm spring water, which they need to swim in order to survive in the winter. Many other issues such as: manatees washing up on shore, boat incidents that are extremely dangerous to them, human harassment and even hunting can force them out of their habitats and pushing them into the unknown, possibly exposing them to danger.

The manatees have recently been down-listed from endangered to threatened, since many massive conservation groups have helped manatees around the world. They help to ensure that the water remains at a warm temperature as temperatures below 68 degrees F can be dangerous, or even fatal, to manatees. Thanks to the many charities and the actions of people around the world protecting and saving them, their numbers have slowly been climbing up as human effort helps them to reproduce and live happily and healthily. Manatees, no matter the age, are very social and gentle creatures.

Their bodies are not acclimated to harm and they do not bother other beings which is why they are very social. If you were to encounter one, it would be perfectly safe. In fact, there are many attractions or activities around the world where you can swim and snorkel with them. These are examples of how they are as harmless as dolphins, albeit seeming larger or scarier. Regardless of standpoints on wildlife, or sea creatures, should you come across manatees, be kind as they don’t wish to hurt you nor scare you. They simply wish to swim about and live their lives. Their only true enemy is humanity. Their environments and regions are being destroyed by sea grass loss which makes food harder to come by, along with accidents with boats that can seriously injure a manatee, perhaps even kill it.

More About Manatees

Manatees are grazing animals, and hence they’ve earned the name “sea cow” as they will eat 60 different fresh water plants up to 150 pounds of plants to keep up their size and weight. So long as food is plentiful, manatees will stay together in groups called aggregations to help one another find food if necessary. Manatees averagely weigh 1000 pounds as the amount they eat, even as young calves, they will eat plants and drink their mother’s milk to make sure that they can grow to their grand size in roughly two years. The young stick to their mother’s side to feed and grow for about two years, until they separate and become independent upon one another.

Though the mothers have to care for a calf for two years, they can only give birth to a new calf once the elder one has left their care. Reproduction can be difficult for manatees as mothers and fathers do not form permanent bonds with one another. Instead the females, or cows, will be followed by a dozen or more males trying to push and shove one another out of the way to reach the female first. This mating process makes the reproductive rate for manatees low. Manatees do not lay eggs, as they are mammals that give birth to live young such as a real cow or land mammal would.

In the end, we should all help to preserve such an amazing animal. The more species we can save, we save for our future generations to learn about and enjoy. The manatees are not here to hurt us, thus we should not hurt them. We should instead help them through any way we can. Many charities or organizations exist to assist you in saving these wonderful creatures. For more information about manatees and how you can save one, or many: click here.