Manatees in the Ichetucknee River in Florida, USA
© Jennifer Adler/Alam
Swimming with the sea cows
Let’s join these friendly manatees on a swim through a clear river in the US state of Florida, where November is designated Manatee Awareness Month. Generally solitary animals, manatees are also known to be curious and will approach boats. That's why Florida enforces special speed zones for watercraft, particularly as the manatees are on the move to find warmer waters in which to spend the winter. While manatees have no known natural predators, they remain a vulnerable species due to loss of habitat and collisions with boats.
Most Florida manatees live in shallow and marshy coastal areas where they feed on sea grass, mangrove leaves and algae. The ocean’s largest herbivore, these “sea cows” can gorge themselves on greenery for almost half the day. And what could be better than a nap after all that food? Manatees will often sleep underwater for the other half of the day, surfacing for air every 20 minutes or so and grazing for food again in shallow waters. Manatees are pretty smart. They've been known to learn basic tasks, recognise people and differentiate colours.