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Old 01-13-2011, 10:14 AM   #1
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Default Manatee Population Threatened

While in Homosassa Springs Florida, we stopped in at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park. There we were informed of the severe affect the cold winter weather on the Manatee population there. Since the Manatee is a mammal, it needs warmth and waters should be above 68 degrees for its best survival. The many springs in Florida draw in Manatees since the waters there are an average of 72 degrees. While visiting we saw hundreds of Manatees in the Blue Spring of the St. John’s River and Homosassa Springs. They are now threatened with low water temperatures and mortality rate will rise this year due to the extreme cold in Northern and Central Florida.

These creatures are a relative of the Elephant and exist entirely on vegetation. Manatees can eat 10 - 15% of their body weight in vegetation daily. A 453-kilogram (1,000-pound) manatee, for example, would probably eat between 45-68 kilograms (100 - 150 pounds) of food a day. Manatees are primary feeders (plant-eaters). They feed directly off of plants. They are comparable to ungulates like deer or cattle that are browsing or grazing animals. Unlike their land counterparts however, manatees have no natural predators. Although they have no natural predators, they are susceptible to injury or death from props on boats that cruise the rivers. It is very important that idle speed be used where Manatees are found. Even though the Manatees coexist with Alligators, the Alligators never bother them.

Although Manatees look fat, they actually have very little body fat for an aquatic mammal. Remember, they are a tropical species and have no need for body fat to keep them warm. A large percentage of the Manatee’s body is taken up by the gut tract, which contains the stomach and intestines etc. Researchers believe that the manatee's large size probably evolved as a result of being aquatic and having an herbivorous (plant-eating) diet. The plants Manatees eat have a low nutritional value, so they make up for that by eating large quantities of them. 
 The average adult Manatee is about three meters (9.8 feet) long and weighs between 362-544 kilograms (800-1,200 pounds). Some can weigh over 2000 lbs.

Manatees seem to love people and will actually swim and come up to human beings. This is a big attraction and experience for people when they visit Homosassa Springs Florida and many of the other rivers of Florida.

Earthyman
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Old 01-13-2011, 12:13 PM   #2
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Quite the odd looking mammal.
Manatee Population Threatened-dscf4441.jpg
This shows how obese they become living in a tank without the proper room to exercise...Poor thing
It's like looking at a drowned wood tick.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:59 PM   #3
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We saw manatees last year when we went to Florida for a shuttle launch.

I thought this was fascinating story: the manatees evolved near warm-water springs but some populations have become reliant on power-plant discharge water. Fine as long as the power plant is running-- but what about when it's not? A local utility company created a system just to heat water while their power plants were being repaired, thereby saving their manatees.

Found this online, but I'm not sure if it's the same one:
Brr! Florida manatees warm up at power plant hot tub | Reuters
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