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The Biggest Manatee



Photo by: US Geological Survey.

The Biggest Manatee: W. India Manatee (Trichechus manatus)

The world's biggest manatee, the West Indian manatee, is faster than it looks: despite its insulating fat, it uses its tail to swim around 5 miles per hour, although it can swim up to 15 miles per hours in short bursts. The West Indian Manatee -- a distinct species apart from other manatees -- can be found in the Caribbean in shallow coastal waters, as well as in shallow rivers. Listed as Endangered manatees have been historically hunted for their skins, oil, and bones. However, they are endangered today thanks to motorboat accidents, fishing net accidents, and ocean pollution (especially oil spills and garbage dumping). Most recently, many West Indian Manatees died in 2010 due to the British Petroleum spill in the gulf coast. Typically seen alone or in pairs, the West Indian Manatee is a highly social animal.

Mammal / Manatees and Dugongs


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