The Manatee Essay

2635 Words May 5th, 2012 11 Pages
Marine Biology Term Paper

The Manatee

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Table of Contents

Section Pages

Introduction 3
Report 4-9
Conclusion 10
Appendix 11-13
Bibliography 14

Introduction Manatees (order Sirenia, genus Trichechus) are the source folklore and possess many unique characteristics. With three recognized species, manatees (along with their relative, the dugong) also possess a unique range, limited mostly to coastal bays and waterways of the warm southern coasts. They are also the world’s only herbivorous marine mammals, and they have a highly-developed mouth with bristles. Although much-loved, the manatee population is currently under threat
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2003; Phillips et al. 2004), prompted in part to develop acoustic detection or warning technology to reduce accidental collisions between manatees and boats.”[2]

There are three main species of manatees: the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus), the Amazonian manatee (T. inunguis), and the West African manatee (T. senegalensis). All of these species have different ranges (see Figure 1). Manatees are large, gray aquatic mammals with bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail. They have two forelimbs, called flippers, with three to four nails on each flipper. Their head and face are wrinkled with whiskers on the snout. The manatee's closest relatives are the elephant and the hyrax (a small, gopher-sized mammal), and they are thought to have evolved from a wading, plant-eating animal. The average adult manatee is about ten feet long and weighs between 800 and 1,200 pounds.[3] Manatees can be found in shallow, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas. They are particularly found where seagrass beds or freshwater vegetation flourish. Manatees are a migratory species; in the United States, they remain mostly in Florida during the winter. However, in the summer months, they can be found as far west as Texas and as far north as Massachusetts; sightings in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are more common during this time of year (see Figure 2). Water temperatures

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