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Did you know that manatees are the sirens of the sea?

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Manatees have been called the "mermaids of the sea" since the time of Christopher Columbus, according to records in his diary.

They were later classified within the zoological order with the name "Sirenidae" due to the resemblance of their body to the mythical mermaids.

Their name comes from the indigenous Caribbean language, which means "with breasts" and their capacity to feed their children.

The species that inhabits the Caribbean is the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) Linnaeus 1758.

It is a large, friendly and peaceful aquatic mammal that lives in rivers, lagoons and sheltered coastal areas such as bays and mangroves that connect to the sea.

They can measure up to twelve feet long and weigh about 3,500 pounds.

Their bodies are large, with thick, tough skin and sparse hair.

They have flipper-like front legs, and importantly, their tail is flattened like a powerful flipper, which they use to move. They lack hind legs.

Although it spends its life in the water, and can go up to 20 minutes without breathing, it emerges to the surface to inhale oxygen from the air.

They are often seen resting near the surface or lying on the bottom.

Manatees take 4 to 6 years to reach adulthood and can live from 60 to 80 years.

Every two to five years the female has a calf, and she takes care of it for at least two years, giving it milk until its teeth are well formed and it is able to eat solid food.

The manatee is the only completely herbivorous marine mammal. Its main food is seaweed and aquatic plants, which grow in shallow places near the coast or at the mouth of rivers, being able to eat more than 100 pounds of food every day.

Are they being threatened?

Yes, they are a threatened and endangered species.

They are protected by national and international regulations that prohibit their capture.

What are these threats?

Undoubtedly, it is the activity caused by man, such as:

🔸The direct physical damage they have, being impacted by the increasing use of boats, boats and "jet skis".

🔸The pollution of the waters, and the large amount of marine debris, which affects them, both by diseases by ingestion and by lacerations, and physical obstructions that make them die slowly.

🔸The ruthless fishing for the use of their meat, oil and their fat.

🔸The entrapment in unattended fishing nets, where they die by drowning.

What measures are taken to conserve them?

🔸Educational measures for citizen awareness.

🔸It is necessary to regulate the speed of boats or other means of aquatic propulsion, to avoid direct damage.

🔸Fishermen should monitor their nets in order to release any trapped manatees, chelonians or other species, which are regulated, or endangered.

🔸Regulate and take measures so that construction projects or other human activities near the coast, do not affect them, as happens with erosion towards the sea caused by earth movement or direct contamination of waters with waste and chemical products, which affect marine vegetation, on which manatees feed.

If these measures are not complied with, not only manatees are affected, but also other marine animals and plants, and finally man.

Are you in favor of joining us to protect them?

Image Source: Pexels

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