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Manatee Awareness Month

shutterstock_92610688November is Manatee Awareness Month and we thought it would be fun to learn a little about this beautiful animal. No, we don’t treat them at any of the AZPV hospitals, but I’m sure a few of the doctors wouldn’t mind a vacation to check them out!

Manatees are often called Sea Cows, but are actually a relative of the elephant. They are typically found alone, in pairs, or in small groups and because they are marine mammals they live only in water, coming to the surface to breathe. There are three different species of manatees distinguishable based on where they live. One specie live in the waters along the Florida coast down to Brazil, another specie calls the Amazon River home, while the last specie inhabits the west coast and rivers of Africa.

These sea creatures are gentle creatures who move slowly and rest often. They can be found rolling and twirling in their playful state, but are mostly busy resting and grazing. Manatees are herbivores and feast regularly on sea grass, algae, and other water plants. A mother only births one calf at a time after a gestation period of one year. Calves are birthed underwater and also nurse under water, until they are able to transition to the herbivore diet.

Manatees are considered endangered now after being put at risk by hunters wanting their hide, oil, and bones. While they are now protected, they are still risk being caught up in fishing nets and hit by motorboats in shallow waters. Thankfully, the number of intentional deaths have decreased over the years, though.

We are grateful for this awareness week and the opportunity to learn more about these graceful creatures!

 

Source: http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/manatee/; http://www.defenders.org/florida-manatee/basic-facts

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