Manatees and Dugongs,
or sea cows as they are sometimes referred to, are large, aquatic mammals
with tapering bodies that end in a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two
forelimbs, referred to as flippers and their head and face are wrinkled with
whiskers on the snout. Their closest land relatives are the hyrax and the
elephant. There are a number of species throughout the world, including the West
Indian manatee, found in the southern United States coastal waters and the
Caribbean, the West African manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the marine
dugong, found in the Pacific Ocean primarily in northern Australian waters
between Shark Bay in Western Australia and Moreton Bay in Queensland.
Manatees are a migratory species, and the West Indian manatee for
example, while concentrated in Florida, can also be found in the summer
months as far west as Texas and as far north as Virginia. Manatees and
Dugongs are gentle, slow moving creatures, and most of their times is
spent eating, resting and in migration. They are completely herbivorous
and can consume up to 15% of their total body weight in vegetation
daily. They typically graze for food along the bottom and surfaces
of lakes, rivers and estuaries. The ocean dwelling dugongs live also
mainly on plants and they graze on seagrasses, which form meadows in
sheltered coastal waters.
West Indian Manatees
have no natural enemies and most mortalities and injuries are from
interaction with man, primarily collisions with boats. Other
threats include dam gates and canal locks and flood control structures,
ingestion of fish hooks, trash and monofilament line, vandalism,
entanglement in crab trap lines and loss of habitat. They can live 60
years or more and are protected as a species in America under the Marine
Mammal Act of 1972, the Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the Florida
Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978.
The links below will take you to some great
websites about manatees and dugongs.
The best sites to start for general information are marked with a star
If you have a site that you think
should be listed,
please email me.
Official, Scientific & Governmental Sites
Endangered Species Organizations
Manatee Observation -Tours, Dive Sites & Parks
Mass Extinction of Species
The Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums
of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquariums is an international
association representing marine life parks, aquariums, zoos, research
facilities, and professional organizations dedicated to the highest
standards of care for marine mammals and to their conservation in the
wild through public education, scientific study, and wildlife
American Scientist Online Article on Manatees, Bioacoustics and Boats
An interesting article
suggesting innovations in boat motors that may prevent collisions with
Florida Fish and Wildlife Research Institute: Manatees
The website of
the Fish and Wildlife Research Institute located in St. Petersburg, FL.
Florida Manatee Recovery Program
Adobe Acrobat, pdf
document -US Fish and Wildlife Service, Third Revision.
Help The Manatees
A Defender of Wildlife
Kids Only Manatees & Dugongs
Published by the
Center For Marine Conservation, 1996 Special Edition produced by the
United Nations Environment
Manatees in South Carolina
South Carolina Department of Natural Resources.
Marine Mammal Commission
The Marine Mammal Commission is an
independent agency of the U.S. Government, established under Title II of the
Marine Mammal Protection Act. It was created to provide independent
oversight of the marine mammal conservation policies and programs being
carried out by the federal regulatory agencies.
Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972
Marine Mammal Protection Act Amendments of 1994
Marine Mammal Stranding Center
Dedicated to the rescue,
rehabilitation and release of marine mammals and sea turtles.
Save The Manatee Club
An important non-profit
website dedicated to saving Manatees.
Sirenian International, Inc., is a grassroots organization of people who
share a dedication to manatee & dugong research, education, and conservation
-a partnership of scientists, students, educators, conservationists, and the
Society For Marine Mammalogy, IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group.
Smithsonian Institute -References on the Sirenia
The Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History has
an online bibliography that lists printed publications relating to manatees
or dugongs. The bibliography is divided into three categories: technical,
general, and periodicals. Several references are also available for young
students in the general and periodical categories. A great resource for
projects or reports.
The Endangered Species Act of 1973
The United States
governmental act that officially protects American Manatees and other
The Manatee Halfway House
The only South Florida
manatee treatment center which is licensed by the United States Fish &
Wildlife Service. A facility of the Miami River Marine Group.
The Wonderful World of the Manatee
A privately produced general
information website dedicated to protecting manatees.
US Fish and Wildlife Service Manatee Profile
US Fish and Wildlife Service
site -excellent resource.
US Geological Survey Manatee Information
USGS works in partnership
with Federal and State agencies and private organizations to study
manatee life history, behavior, ecology, and population biology.
Satellite Tracking of Manatees
ICUN World Conservation Union
Conservation Union is the world’s largest and most important
conservation network. The Union brings together 82 States, 111
government agencies, more than 800 non-governmental organizations
(NGOs), and some 10,000 scientists and experts from 181 countries in a
unique worldwide partnership. The Union’s mission is to influence,
encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the
integrity and diversity of nature and to ensure that any use of natural
resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable.
United Nations Environment Programme World Conservation
United Nations Environment Programme
World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) is the
biodiversity assessment and policy implementation arm of the United
Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the world's foremost
intergovernmental environmental organization.
US Fish & Wildlife Webpages on Endangered Species
The American endangered species
list maintained by the US Fish & Wildlife Service
Word Conservation Union ICUN Red List of Endangered Species
IUCN - The
World Conservation Union, through its Species Survival Commission (SSC)
has for four decades been assessing the conservation status of species,
subspecies, varieties and even selected subpopulations on a global scale
in order to highlight species threatened with extinction, and therefore
promote their conservation.
Bird's Underwater Manatee Tours
Crystal River, Florida
Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park
Florida park that serves as a
rehabilitation center and refuge for endangered West Indian manatees.
Scuba resource directory websites page on manatees
Endangered Jamaican Manatees
Addresses the plight of the
endangered population of Manatees in Jamaica.
Fundacion Salvemos al Manati de Costa Rica
The website of the Foundation
To Save Manatees in Costa Rica.
Seaworld Education Resource Department: Manatees
Manatee information page by
Sea World/ Busch Gardens in Florida
journal of an eight-day photographic encounter with Manatees in Homosassa
A small one-page personal website.
A small one-page
American Museum of Natural History Statement
The IUCN Red List of Endangered Species
Professor David Ulansey's Website -Mass Extinction Underway