Manatee in Florida, USA
© Paul E Tessier/Cavan Images/Offset by Shutterstoc
Elephants of the sea. Manatee
Closer cousins to elephants than to other sea mammals like whales and dolphins, manatees are graceful swimmers who glide along coastal waters and rivers at about 5mph. These large creatures are herbivores who snack on sea grasses and other marine plants, so the fish in the photo needn't fear being eaten. Human activity is a substantial threat to these curious 'sea cows', which are often hurt or killed by boat propellers.
There are three species of manatee, the West Indian manatee, found along the North American east coast from Florida to Brazil, the Amazonian manatee, found in the famous river and the African manatee which swims along the west coast and rivers of Africa. In Florida, where our homepage friend was photographed, manatee populations have rallied since hitting a low in the early 1990s, when it was thought only about 1,200 were left. Current estimates now have their numbers at 5,000 or more.