The Eating Habits of Herbivorous Manatees

September 9, 2021

If you have traveled along the coast of Florida, you may have seen a manatee grazing and wondered about what they are eating and how they find their food and chew it. Manatees are herbivores and feed almost exclusively on plants that grow in fresh and saltwater environments.

Freshwater plants include hyacinth, pickerelweed, alligator weed, water lettuce, hydrilla, water celery, and musk grass. Saltwater plants include sea grasses, shoal grass, manatee grass, turtle grass, widgeon grass, sea clover, and marine algae.

Manatees eat an average of 100-200 pounds of sea grasses and weeds each day. They large herbivores graze on the grasses and weeds for up to seven hours each day, ultimately consuming about 10 – 15% of their body weight.

Manatees use their two front flippers to pull or collect plants toward them. They also use their flippers to coast along the sandy bottom and dig for roots in the sand. The flippers scoop of vegetation and carry it to their mouths.

Manatees have prehensile lips, which means the upper lip is split so that the left and right sides can move almost independently. The lips use seven different muscles to tear away at the plants and the front flippers and well-muscled lips then guide the plants to their mouth.

Manatees do not have front teeth, but behind the lips, on the roof of the mouth, a manatee has ridged pads, which (along with the lower jaw) tear through the sea grass and then allow bite-sized pieces to go into their teeth for grinding.

The manatee has four rows of teeth twenty-four to thirty-two rough-textured teeth, which allow them to chew and grind vegetation.

Manatees No Longer on Endangered List

September 9, 2021


Earlier this year, manatees were officially removed from the endangered list. An increase in the overall manatee populations and much needed improvements to their habitats steered the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to downgrade protections for the species from “endangered” to “threatened.” Although this is certainly good news, it has left some feeling a little nervous that the guard will come down and levels of carelessness when it comes to manatees will once again rise.

The Center for Biological diversity stated that 2016 was the deadliest year thus far for manatees. “Manatees are still in danger. With ongoing threats posed by boat strikes and habitat loss, we don’t support reducing protections,” said Jaclyn Lopez, Florida Director for the center, according to USA Today.

Though the note to remain cautious remains, the downgrade marks an important breakthrough. Approximately 13,000 manatees currently live throughout parts of the Caribbean and the southeastern portion of the United States. The species is divided equally between the Antillean manatee and the Florida manatee. This number strongly contrasts the population of years in the past when it sadly appeared that manatees might be headed towards extinction. The current approximate population of the Florida manatees alone is 6,620, which also represents a dramatic turnaround from the 1970s when only a few hundred Florida manatees remained, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The manatee was first placed on the endangered species list in 1973.

“Today we both recognize the significant progress we have made in conserving manatee populations while reaffirming our commitment to continuing this species’ recovery and success throughout its range,” said Jim Kurth, Acting Director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior, decides which animals need to be protected under the Endangered Species Act. Federal protections are to remain in place for manatees.

When the announcement of their removal from the endangered list was made, many criticized the move, including Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., who said, “The decision to weaken protections under the Endangered Species Act threatens the survival of the manatee, one of Florida’s most beloved animals.” “It needs to be reversed,” added Buchanan.

Manatees face a range of threats to their existence, including being injured and/or killed by watercrafts, loss of habitat, and red time, Buchanan pointed out.

Environmental groups also expressed their dismay with the decision. “We believe this is a devastating blow to manatees,” said Patrick Rose, Executive Director of the Save the Manatees Club. “A federal reclassification at this time will seriously undermine the changes of securing the manatee’s long-term survival,” added Rose.

With great attention to these concerns, a vast amount of respect for manatees and their existence, and great care, Manatee Eco Tours out of Naples allows visitors to view these beautiful animals in their habitats, safe from harm, and is dedicated to sharing their knowledge about these wonderful creatures and how important it is to keep them safe.

All That Manatee Eco Tours Has to Offer

September 9, 2021

Naples, Florida undoubtedly ranks amongst the best places to visit in Florida and manatee eco tours are high on the list of “must-dos” as far as Florida tourist attractions. Manatee tours offered by Manatee Eco-Tours include a boat tour with a close-up view of Florida wildlife. Whether you are a wildlife photography enthusiast or simply a tourist looking for a wonderful adventure tour, Manatee Eco-Tours will exceed your expectations.

Captain Barry and Carol started their eco adventures business in beautiful Naples in 1999. The company started with just one boat and has since added six boats to the fleet, all while bringing visitors out on the waters and offering them an opportunity to see Florida wildlife at a very close range. All Captains are licensed, insured and certified with CPR/First Aid. The Captains also have the experience needed on the water to take you to the areas where you will most likely see manatees and other wildlife and they are also very knowledgeable regarding Florida’s habitat and the ecological struggles of manatees as well as other wildlife, allowing the tours to be informative and educational.

Naples, known for its pristine white sand beaches, is paradise for natural wildlife and home to some of the most diverse and unique ecosystems in the nation. Aside from alligators, a wide variety of birds and large fish, and other kinds of aquatic life that are common to Naples, manatees are a Florida treasure.

Also known as sea cows, these gentle giants are typically found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, bays, estuaries and coastal water ecosystems along the southeastern United States. They can live in fresh, brackish, or salt water. Manatees prefer waters that are approximately three to seven feet in depth, however, along the coast, manatees tend to travel in waters that are about 10 – 16 feet in depth. The warm waters around Naples provide manatees with safe living and breeding areas, the warm water they prefer, and a steady and easy to access food supply.

Manatees, despite their large size (measuring an average of 8 to 13 feet and weighing between 440 and 1,300 pounds), are in fact graceful swimmers. They glide at about 5 miles per hour, but are able to swim approximately 15 miles per hour in short bursts. Other information you are likely to learn about manatees during Manatee Eco-Tours manatee viewing tours may consist of the different species of manatees, parenting, diet, how they are protected by law, what types of behaviors on the water can put manatees at risk of injury or death, how they breathe and how they typically travel.

When traveling along the Southwestern portion of the Sunshine State, stop for a manatee eco-tour and experience all the wonder that makes precious manatees a Florida treasure.

Enjoy a Manatee Eco Tour Out of Naples Florida

September 9, 2021


Florida’s state marine mammal, the Florida manatee, is related to the elephant. These grayish brown gentle animals use their front flippers to steer and their flat tails to help them move forward through the water. Manatees playing an extremely important part with regard to plant growth in shallow rivers, estuaries, bays and coastal waters where they live. Getting up close enough to see them is a special treat for visitors to the Sunshine state, as well as residents.

Manatees are herbivores and mostly feed on sea grasses and freshwater plants. They can be found in warmer waters and are rarely found in waters under 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Manatees live in Florida’s coastal waters during the winter season, though some migrate as far north as the Carolinas or as far west as Louisiana during the summer months. During the last few years, some manatees have been spotted as far north as Massachusetts.

Manatees are well known for their slow-cruising, gentle nature and have also been known to body surf when they are feeling a bit playful. They communicate through the use of squealing sounds under water, to convey feelings of excitement or fear. Baby manatees are born weighing approximately 60 to 70 pounds and measuring 3 to 4 feet in length and they nurse underwater.

When in the Naples, Florida area, taking a manatee sightseeing eco tour is a great way to enjoy a close view of Florida wildlife. Manatee Eco-Tours out of Naples is the only sightseeing tour company in the world that offers and stands by it’s NO SEE-NO PAY guarantee. We offer an informative 90-minute tour that will allow you to see manatees in their natural habitat. It is very likely to also see other types of wildlife, such as alligators, egrets, dolphins, sea turtles and other animals that are indigenous to the area during the tours. The tours take you and your group to the Faka Union Canal, which is part of the Port of the islands and the 10,000 islands.