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West Indian Manatee
Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus.
West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus
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Where are they found? Atlantic OceanNorth AmericaSouth America

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The West Indian manatee is an aquatic herbivore that lives in rivers, estuaries and coastal maritime areas of tropical and subtropical regions of the Atlantic Ocean around the New World. They average 400 to 500 kg (880 to 1,100 lb.), and in one day can eat the equivalent of up to one-quarter of their body weight. This voracious appetite has been put to use with their introduction into areas where water hyacinth is clogging the waterways.

Early depletion of this aquatic mammal began with hunting for hides, meat, oil and the dense bones, which were used like ivory. Later, the loss of habitat to coastal development, the use of herbicides to control aquatic vegetation, and injuries from powerboats, all contributed to its decline.

Although legally protected through most of its range, complete enforcement is almost impossible. The species is considered endangered.


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Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus. Photo: West Indian Manatee, Trichechus manatus.


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