Today is National Manatee Appreciation Day, and we want to do our part to pay tribute to these unique and peculiar marine mammals. Each year, this last Wednesday in March is dedicated to raising awareness in the United States about Manatees in order to encourage preservation of their natural habitat and to protect the species. (Floridians also spend an entire month celebrating the Manatee every year during November).
There are plenty of reasons that Manatees have garnered such a following, the most obvious of which is that they are totally adorable.
Manatees are oftentimes referred to as “Sea Cows”, but we won’t tell them that. Interestingly enough, it isn’t the cow that they are most closely related to. They are most similar to elephants, and have been known to weigh in at as much as 3,500 pounds! Manatees have spent thousands of years becoming what they are today, having evolved from prehistoric land mammals. Did you know that of all the marine mammals that have been identified, Manatees are the only herbivores? The only teeth they have are molars designed for grinding vegetation.
So, why is it important for us to focus on preservation of this gentle veggie-loving giant? What makes them so special? It’s about more than just the manatee. It’s about the ecosystem in which the manatee lives. Manatees control the overgrowth of some types of vegetation, while providing fertilization for others. Without the Manatee, survival for other sea creatures would be difficult, especially those who depend on this balance of vegetation.
It is believed that original sailors’ tales of mermaids at sea were actually based on manatee sightings. According to the History Channel, on January 9, 1493, Christopher Columbus recorded an encounter with three mermaids, which were later found to be three manatees travelling together. In his journal, he stated that they were “not half as beautiful as they are painted to be.”
We love you, manatee. We think you are beautiful. Don’t change a thing.
For more information on Manatees, go to www.savethemanatees.org