Manatees By Melina Vicente

Organism Research Project 2017


Q: What is the common name for your organism?

A: The common name is manatee.

Q: What is the scientific name of your organism?

A: The scientific name for a manatee is Trichechus Manatu.

Q: What is the full "taxomony name" of your organism?


Kingdom- Animalia

Phylum- Chordata

Class- Mammalia

Order- Sirenia

Family- Trichechidae

Genus- Trichechus

Species- Manatu

Q: What do you call a population of your organism?

A: Manatees are solitary. However, if they have a gathering, due to certain needs, it is called an aggregation.

Q: What other organisms are in the community?

A: Manatees tend to live near other herbivores such as turtles, flounder, oysters, snails, etc.

Q: Where does your organism live?

A: They live in the coast/rivers of Western Africa, Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Brazil, and the US (near Florida).

Q: What kind of environment (ecosystem) does your organism live in?

A: They like to live in coastal water ecosystems, or ecosystems with slow, shallow rivers and warm water.

Q: In an ecosystem, there are abiotic factors. Think of one (temperature, salinity, etc.) and how your organism responds to a change in it.

A: If there is a change in salinity, a manatee would have to change their movement patterns since they need fresh water. During the dry season, the salinity level is higher (the water is saltier), so manatees would have to travel further up the coast to get the fresh water they need. When the wet/rainy season comes back again, they can travel back to their home where the water will be back to normal.

Q: Is your organism endangered or threatened? If it is endangered what is the reason? What is being done to help your organism?

A: Manatees used to be endangered, but they have recently moved to threatened. This was because of various human activities (People hunting for meat, fat, skin, etc.). Boat collisions are another cause of the decrease in manatee population, since they tend to swim towards the surface. To help the manatees, protected areas have been made, research on their needs have been conducted, and citizens have made the effort to be involved as well (Save the Manatee Club).

Q: What would happen if your organism was eliminated (extinction) from the environment?

A: One thing that may happen if manatees go extinct is that there will be a "forest" in the ocean. Since manatees are herbivores that eat the plants in the ocean, then, if they go extinct nothing will be eating the plants, leaving them to grow non-stop. To add on, with no more manatees, there are no more manatee exhibits. Some people will go to places just to look at the manatees, so, if their extinct, places will lose those people, making exhibits lose money.

Q: What does your organism eat? List at least 3 food items!!

A: Manatees are herbivores that eat plants such as sea grass, sea hyacinth, and algae.

Q: Does your organism have any predators? If so, what are they?

A: Their main predators are humans that hunt for meat, fat, skin, etc. On rare occasions, however, alligators and sharks are predators as well.

Q: What do you call an offspring (babies) of your organism?

A: A baby manatee is called a calf.

Q: How long is the female pregnant for? How many offspring does the female usually have?

A: A female manatee is usually pregnant for 12 months. On average, they'll have about 8-9 calves in their lifetime.

Q: Do the babies stay with the parents or are they left to take care of themselves? If they stay with the parents, how long generally?

A: Calves would stay with their parents for about 1-2 years. Although, they are nutritionally independent by one, they tend to stay a bit longer to get information on feeding/resting areas, travel routes, warm water refuges, etc.

Q: Does your organism "change" it's appearance as it grows from an infant to an adult or is it born looking exactly like an adult?

A: They only thing that changes as the manatees grow is their color. When they are born they are a gray/black color, by one month they are typically all gray, and by the time it reaches adulthood they are a gray/brownish gray color.

Q: What is the average lifespan of your organism?

A: Manatees can live up to 50-70 years old. However, due to many threats and activities (humans/boats) many don't get to live that long.

Q: What is the average size (height and weight) of your organism?

A: The average size of a manatee is 8-13 feet. the average weight ranges from 440 pounds all the way up to 1300 pounds.

Q: What is the difference in a male and female? Markings, size, etc. (List at least 3 things)

A: The main way to tell the difference between male and female manatees is by looking on their underside for their genitals. The male's are under the belly button, and the female's are above the anus. Another possible way to tell the difference is if you manage to see the female nursing her calf under her pectoral fin. Furthermore, females are normally larger than males (due to nursing). *According to my sources it is very difficult to distinguish a male and female manatee, even biologists have a hard time.*

Q: EXPLAIN 3 things your organism does to help it survive in nature.


1.) One thing that manatees do to help them survive in nature is create communication sounds. These sounds would be used for when they interact, are frightened, are in love, etc. Also, since they have good hearing, the communication sounds are still useful even though they may be far apart.

2.) Another thing manatees do to survive in nature is to not dive down. They are aware that predators, such as sharks, may be there, so they don't risk their life by diving deep down. To add on, by not diving down, they conserve their oxygen. When they go down, they use up oxygen. By the time they reach where they want to go, it is likely that they'll have to just travel back up again for another breath.

3.) A third way manatees survive in nature is that they let algae grow on them. To you, it may not feel nice to have algae on your back, but manatees don't mind it. (With manatees being slow and always close to the surface, their back is an ideal breeding ground for algae.) The algae helps prevent manatees from getting sunburned by the harmful rays.

Q: What are some interesting closely related organisms?

A: Elephants and hyraxes are the manatees interestingly close relatives.


This is a photo of a full grown manatee.
On the left is an aggregation (group/population) of manatees. On the right is a baby manatee with it's mother.
This is a map of where manatees live.
This is an image of a manatee eating sea grass.


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