West Indian manatee

Trichechus manatus

Family Trichechidae - mammal, aquatic

Body large, stout, torpedo-shaped; color grayish; skin with sparse hairs; snout blunt, truncate, stiff bristles on the chin; front limbs paddle-shaped; no hind limbs tail flattened dorsoventrally, round, paddle-shaped; nostrils on the snout; eyes and mouth small; mammary glands located in the armpits of the females.
Similar Species
Only 1 species of manatee occurs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Rivers and bays; found in the Gulf when migrating
Maximum Size
3.5 m (11.5 ft)
Other Common Names
sea cow
Previous Scientific Names
They are very sluggish swimmers and are very cold sensitive which limits their range. There are 2 (possibly 3) subspecies of the West Indian manatee, The Florida manatee (T. m. latirostris) lives mainly in southern Florida, but in the warmer months they have been know to migrate as far north as Massachusetts and as far west as Texas. The Antillean manatee (T. m. manatus) ranges from southern Mexico to northeastern South America and throughout the Caribbean. The subspecies are impossible to distinguish except through morphological and DNA analysis. Manatees are protected as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.




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