West Indian/Florida manatees are large, gray-brown aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two flippers with three to four nails on each, and their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. The average adult manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs about 1,000 pounds. Manatees are gentle and slow moving spending most of their time eating, resting, and in travel. Manatees are completely herbivorous. They have no natural enemies, and it is believed they can live 60 years or more. The reproductive rate for manatees is slow. It is believed that one calf is born every two to five years; twins are rare.
AN ENDANGERED SPECIES
West Indian/Florida Manatees are on the endangered list. Many are killed or maimed by collision with watercraft. Other causes of human-related manatee mortalities include being crushed and/or drowned in canal locks and flood control structures; ingestion of fish hooks, litter and monofilament line; and entanglement in crab trap lines. Loss of habitat is also a serious threat facing manatees today. In the United States they are protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.
Save The Manatee Club was established in 1981 by former Florida Governor Bob Graham and singer/songwriter Jimmy Buffett. SMC was started so the public could participate in conservation efforts to save endangered manatees from extinction. SMC is a membership-based, national nonprofit organization. Funds from the Adopt-A-Manatee program go toward public awareness and education projects; manatee research; rescue and rehabilitation efforts; advocacy and legal action in order to ensure better protection for manatees and their habitat. Currently, there are about 40,000 SMC members.
WHAT YOU CAN DO: