West Indian Manatee

Trichechus manatus

Everglades National Park, Florida, USA - December 2011

West Indian Manatees are large aquatic herbivores that inhabit warm coastal waters of the Carribean and southern United States. Adults range in size from 2m-5m (average is 3-4m) in length, weigh up to 600kg and can stay submerged for up to 15 minutes, although the average length of time between coming to the surface to breathe is about 4 minutes.

eating the algae growing on the side of a floating wharf - Everglades National Park, Florida, USA - December 2011

The Florida subspecies is currently listed as endangered due to having a small population (about 2500 individuals in 2008) which is expected to decline by a further 20% over the next 40 years.  They are very susceptible to injury from boat traffic in the busy waters around Florida and most adults carry at least one scar from encounters with the propellers of outboard motors.