At Ocean Scuba Dive we’ve already covered the fact that several popular aquatic animals have their very own days set aside where people celebrate their existence.
These days are often designed to raise awareness for these often endangered species and issues they may face. Did you know that the last Wednesday in March for a number of years now has been designated as Manatee Appreciation Day?
5 Things About Manatees You Might Not Know
While it is not surprising, perhaps, that dolphins and penguins would have their own special day, manatees also have a day specifically for them. Many people are not even aware of the existence of these gentle giants.
However, we really think they do, for a few reasons. In the following post, we are going to discuss some of them and maybe you too will decide to celebrate it and buy manatee gifts for your loved ones.
1. Largest of the Ocean’s Herbivores
Even if you have only ever seen pictures of manatees or footage online or on the television, you will likely know that they are impressively big. Step aside smallest animals in the ocean, as most manatees range in length from about 8 to 13-feet and weigh anything from 440 to a staggering 1300 pounds. This makes them the largest herbivore in the oceans of the world.
In order to maintain their size, they need to eat between 10 and 15% of their body weight in pure vegetation every day. This means they could eat around 130-pounds of food in a day. While the manatees that live in seas tend to eat seagrasses, the ones that inhabit rivers tend to eat freshwater vegetation. As a species, manatees have also been known to eat algae.
2. They Are Covered in Whiskery Hairs
Although they look very leathery and smooth, it may surprise you to learn that manatees are covered in a whiskery kind of hair known as vibrissae.
In fact, there is around 2000 of them just on their face alone and a further 3000 over their bodies. These hairs help with, among other things, regulating their body temperature and are not very noticeable from a distance.
3. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
Manatees are known as not being the quickest thing in the ocean. Although they can swim at 15 miles an hour for short bursts of time, hey normally swim at a speed of around the 5 miles per hour mark.
A completely water-based animal, manatees never come onto dry land. While it is possible for them to hold their breath for between 15 and 20 minutes at a time, you will find that most prefer to head to the surface after 3 to 5 minutes at a time.
4. A Herd of Manatees is an Aggregation
Manatees are curious creatures as there is no one set way they live. Some prefer to swim alone, whereas others in pairs or even part of a herd. A herd of manatees is known as an aggregation and includes as many of 6 animals.
Aggregations usually form to make up a mating herd, with females followed by bulls or simply because they all want to be in the same area for warmth and food.
5. All Species Are Threatened, Some Are Even Endangered
Manatees do not have any natural predators. However, like many of the most amazing and majestic animals on our planet, all species of this intriguing animal are threatened, and some are at the point of being endangered.
This is the more serious reason why there is a day devoted to appreciating these gentle beasts and raising awareness about them. In the waters around West Africa, despite it being illegal to hunt manatees, they are still being poached for their hide and meat.
Even when they are not being deliberately targeted, many around the Amazon basin and Western Africa often get caught in the nets that fishermen use in their trawlers. As if that wasn’t bad enough, some are killed on collisions with boats, most notably speedboats.
Toxic red tide and waterfront development projects around their native habitats are also causing them serious problems.
When is Manatee Appreciation Day?
When is Manatee Appreciation Day?: Manatee Appreciation Day falls every year on the last Wednesday in March. Although manatee are only found in certain places in the world, many people love to show these amazing creatures some love.
Observing Manatee Appreciation Day
Manatees, if left to live happy and peaceful lives, can live up to 40 years at the very least. Thanks to the many issues we’ve discussed, however, this is often not possible. Which is why Manatee Appreciation Day is so important.
Every little could help and while talking about and researching manatees on the same day as many other people won’t necessarily stop the poachers, it will help bring their plight to the attention of a wider audience.
There are many things you can do to celebrate and mark this special day. You could hold your own fun and informative manatee party, adopt one of these beautiful creatures, or look out for events being held at your local sea life center or zoo.