West Indian Manatee

West Indian Manatee

West Indian Manatee

West Indian Manatee Range Map (Americas)
West Indian Manatee Range Map (Americas)
Latin Name Trichechus manatus
Conservation Status Vulnerable
Location SE USA to NE South America, Caribbean
Colour Grey/Brown
Length 2.5 - 4.5 m (8.25 - 15 ft)
Weight 200 - 600 Kgs (440 - 1,320 lbs)
Life Expectancy

Up to 28 Yrs (in Captivity)
Up to 60 Yrs (Wild)

Main Characteristics

West Indian Manatees reach lengths between 2.5 and 4.5 m (8.25 - 15 ft) and they weigh between 200 and 600 kgs (440 - 1,320 lbs). They are grey or brown in colour and they have a very sparse scattering of hair on their body. Their skin is thick and beneath it they have a layer of fat.

Their body is large and rounded, and they have a paddle like tail fluke. Their front limbs act as flippers and they are agile in water - they have been seen doing somersaults and rolls.

They have a small head with a broad muzzle that is adapted for feeding on aquatic plants. Their eyes are small and they rely on their senses of hearing and touch.

West Indian Manatees feed on abrasive plants and because of this their teeth are constantly being worn down. To counteract this their teeth are continually being replaced throughout their life.


West Indian Manatees are found in the warm coastal waters, nearby rivers and freshwater lagoons of Florida, the Caribbean and the north east coast of South America.

They are mainly solitary but occasionally they will gather in small groups. They are not territorial so they do not defend a home range.


West Indian Manatees feed upon aquatic plants and they are known to consume 9 - 30 kgs (20 - 66 lbs) of food per day.


After a gestation period of 12 months a single calf is born. After a few weeks the calf will begin to eat vegetation but they will stay with their mother for 12 - 18 months until they are weaned.

During the time spent with their mother the calves will learn feeding areas and migration routes.

Females become sexually mature when they reach 4 years of age but they do not usually reproduce until they are 7 years old, after which they will breed every 2 - 5 years.


Humans are predators of West Indian Manatees; they have no natural predators.


There are two subspecies of West Indian Manatee:

Florida Manatee
(Trichechus manatus latirostris)
This subspecies is the largest of all sirenians.

Antillian or Caribbean Manatee
(Trichechus manatus manatus)

Interesting Facts

West Indian Manatees are also known as:
Florida Manatee

The Florida Manatee is the states official marine mammal and is a focus of tourist interest.

West Indian Manatees have no vocal cords, but they can still make a variety of high pitched calls.

Each winter, hordes of manatees congregate in the warm waters of the Florida Everglades. And a National Geographic researcher is working to see if the species is recovering. See Video>

Similar Animals

Amazonian Manatee
West African Manatee


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