Each year on the last Wednesday of March, the world comes together to appreciate manatees, the beloved underwater couch potato. Commonly known as the “sea cow,” this slow-moving mammal has been found in the warm waters of the Caribbean, the Amazon, and the west coast of Africa.
The most significant challenge manatees face today is loss of habitat. As a migratory species, they are also often fatally injured in collisions with boats.
The good news — this blubbery creature has officially been removed from the endangered species list.
In honor of Manatee Appreciation Day, here are seven fun facts about these mighty mammals.
Manatees are extremely docile creatures, and have no natural enemies.
They are herbivores that eat sea grass, mangrove leaves, and algae found in warm, shallow waters.
At least two species — the West indian and West African manatees — are able to internally regulate salt concentrations, and spend their lives alternating between both salty and fresh water.
Unlike most mammals with seven neck vertebrae, manatees have just six. Only manatees and tree sloths have this irregular number of vertebrae.
“Slow and steady” is the manatee’s motto. In rare instances, however, the mammal can swim up to 20 mph.