Our Favorite Manatee Photos of All Time
Get up-close and personal with these gentle giants that are notoriously hard to photograph—and learn all about them while you’re at it!
Watch out for these slow swimmers
Manatees are slow-moving animals, which makes them susceptible to boat strikes. A manatee usually cruises along at about five miles per hour. But they can put on a burst of speed for a short time—up to about 15 miles per hour, says ScienceBug.org.
Manatees go to rehab after being rescued
When manatees are rescued, they often need to go through extensive rehabilitation so that, one day, they can be released back into the wild. SeaWorld Orlando released six rehabilitated manatees in 2017, one of their busiest years. One of the six was an orphaned manatee who’d been rescued in 2014 when it was just 2 weeks old. Through constant care over three years, the staff helped the manatee grow from 48 pounds to 775 pounds so she’d be strong enough to survive on her own. That’s about half of what a healthy adult manatee weighs: up to 1,800 pounds. Yep, that’s big! Check out how manatees compare with 23 of the other biggest living animals in the world.
The good life of a manatee
When healthy and when their habitat isn’t under threat, manatees lead a pretty good life. They spend most of their days eating and sleeping. The caretakers at Xcaret Park in Cancún, Mexico, report that their two rescued manatees “love slow swimming, eating, and, above all, resting.” The manatees that spend the winter in Citrus County like to sleep in the afternoons, after having a large breakfast in the mornings. So if you want to swim with them when they’re most active, book a morning trip with a guide.
Here’s where you can see manatees
Florida is a manatee hot spot, especially in Citrus County. Blue Spring, under an hour from Orlando, is a manatee refuge in the winter, with swimming and boating prohibited so manatees can live as natural a life as possible. And Belize has the largest number of manatees in Central America, as manatees love the warm, shallow waters surrounding Belize’s small cays and islands. On a quiet, private island like Cayo Espanto, you might get lucky and have a manatee swim right up to your dock while you’re relaxing under an umbrella. Check out the map on SaveTheManatee.org to see where manatees and their dugong cousins can be seen around the world. Interested in these cute sea cows? Learn the 13 things you never knew about manatees.