15 August 2007

© Franklin J. Viola, Viola Photography. 2007  All Rights Reserved.

Manatee Nursing Calf     Crystal River, Florida

West Indian Manatees have been known to reach lengths of over 13 feet and weights over 3,000 pounds. Calves are 3-4 feet long at birth and weigh approximately 60 pounds. Spending most of their time feeding and resting, "sea cows" (as originally described by early seafarers) graze for food along rivers and coastal shores. Manatees usually surface every 5-10 minutes to breathe, but may hold their breath for as long as 20 minutes when sleeping. Their population is estimated at 1,800. However, the continuing growth of Florida's coastal areas has severely threatened the manatee's survival.

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