The Manatee

  • Jessica H. Lewis


The order Sirenia includes manatees and dugongs. The former live in the coastal waters of the southern United States, Central America, and northern South America. Dugongs inhabit the tropical shore waters of the Eastern hemisphere. Manatees are often called sea cows or mermaids and are large, ungainly mammals that weigh up to 600 kg and measure up to 4 m in length. They have broad heads, cleft upper lips, and a muzzle adorned with hairs or bristles. Their bodies are sparsely haired and roundish with front flippers and broad, flattened, rounded tails. They are said to be excellent, although sluggish, swimmers. They live in small groups in brackish or fresh water, lagoons, rivers, and estuaries. Sirenia are completely herbivorous, feeding on large quantities of water grasses or water hyacinths. Their gestation period is 11 months, and they usually produce one infant that nurses under water from teats near its mother’s axillae.


Trichechus Manatus Biochemical Test Water Hyacinth Fibrinolytic Enzyme Eastern Hemisphere 
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Suggested Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jessica H. Lewis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and Central Blood BankPittsburghUSA

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