Manatee Appreciation Day is celebrated every year on the last Wednesday of March to raise awareness about the incredible sea mammals that are also known as sea cows.

This year, Manatee Appreciation Day is celebrated on March 30, as a day to appreciate the endangered species. The day also aims to remind people about the importance of saving their habitat.

Taking simple precautions while boating will help to prevent harming the manatee. You can participate in the day's celebrations by learning more about Manatees. So here are some fun facts about the marine mammal:

Courtesy: Mental Floss, ThoughtCO

  1. Though Manatees look very similar to walruses and seals in their appearance, they are not related to them. An elephant is the closest living relative of this sea mammal.
  2. Manatees need to come up to the water surface to breathe and can hold their breath underwater for up to 20 minutes. In one breath, they can replace 90% of the air in their lungs.
  3. Manatees are the largest herbivores sea animal. They can grow up to 13 feet long and weigh as much as 1,300 pounds.
  4. Early sailors like Christopher Columbus often mistook Manatees for mermaids. Columbus said he "distinctly saw three mermaids, which rose well out of the sea; but they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits," in a ship log dated Jan. 9, 1493. The sightings mentioned by Columbus were Manatees.
  5. There are three species of Manatees, namely the West Indian manatee, the West African manatee, and the Amazonian manatee. The West Indian manatees or the Florida manatee are the only species found in the U.S and they are protected by the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act and Florida's Manatee Sanctuary Act.
  6. A female manatee is pregnant for a whole year and has one calf every two to five years.
  7. Manatees have sensitive whiskers called vibrissae on their faces and their bodies. The whiskers help them to sense and explore the world around them.
  8. The size of manatees' brains is the smallest when compared to all mammals in relation to their body mass. But they can learn basic tasks, like dolphins. However, they can only see the blue, green and gray spectrum and are blind to red or blue-green combinations.
  9. Manatees eat 7-15% of their body weight. An average-sized manatee would consume about 150 pounds of greenery each day and spends about 7 hours a day feeding.
  10. Florida Manatees face several threats including habitat loss, fishing gear entanglement, toxic algae, human harassment and collisions with boats. However, run-ins with boats remain the leading cause of their deaths.
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