Manatee Awareness Month

Manatees are large, herbivorous, and aquatic marine animals that some people refer to as sea cows. These helpful animals are important to the ecosystems they inhabit and help to consume invasive species such as water hyacinths and prevent those species from doing harm.

Manatees are also important sources of fertilization for seagrasses and other aquatic vegetation. Unfortunately, they have become endangered over the past three decades. The IUCN Red List lists four manatee species as vulnerable to extinction, so all of us need to work together to prevent that from happening.

One way to do that is by observing Manatee Awareness Month during November. Let’s all come together and make sure these animals remain around for a long time to come.

The History of Manatee Awareness Month

In 1966, manatees were placed on the endangered species list. To prevent these animals from going the way of the dodo, the Steller’s sea cow, or the passenger pigeon, Manatee Awareness Day was created in 1979 by former U.S. governor of Florida, Bob Graham.

Around this same time, manatee protection zones were established to give manatees a place to gather for the winter. In 2005, this holiday month became official in Florida.

Some Important Facts About Manatees

Below are some facts that we feel people interested in observing Manatee Awareness Month would like to know about. We hope that the following facts will raise people’s awareness about these marine animals and inspire them to get involved in saving them.

  • It’s believed that manatees supposedly inspired legends of mermaids.
  • Christopher Columbus said that he caught a glimpse of three mermaids. Those are believed to be manatees.
  • Although manatees never leave the water, they do surface for air every five minutes.
  • Manatees can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes.
  • Manatees share a common ancestor with the hyrax, aardvarks, and elephants.
  • They eat approximately 10% of their weight in food every day.
  • Manatees move anywhere from 5 to 15 miles per hour.
  • Manatees don’t have neck vertebrae, so they can’t turn their heads.

Observing Manatee Awareness Month

Let’s face the stark facts about manatees. They are quickly disappearing from the planet because of human activity. It’s been estimated that approximately 100 manatee deaths each year are caused by humans, mostly through collisions with boats and their propellers.

They are also dying because human activities have destroyed many of their food sources. That’s why it’s important for everyone who can help to do so by observing Manatee Awareness Month.

Those who can’t get involved personally can donate money to organizations such as Save the Manatee Club. People can also spread the news about this month by using the hashtag #ManateeAwarenessMonth online.

When is it?
This year (2024)
November 1 Friday
Next year (2025)
November 1 Saturday
Last year (2023)
November 1 Wednesday