I love manatees.
They’re big, they’re gentle and they’re pretty much the least dangerous thing you can encounter in any body of water in Florida.
Now that it’s November, a.k.a. Manatee Awareness Month, I thought it was an appropriate time to dedicate a blog post to promoting sea cows and all their glory.
Manatees are great but as a native Floridian — born and raised in Manatee County — I can’t write about them without mentioning that they’re an endangered species that needs to be protected.
Their docile nature means they can fall victim to human cruelty or be injured from watercraft, particularly propellers. Plus residential development and other environmental factors are threatening the springs they call home.
For more information on what you can do to help the state’s manatee population you can visit Defenders.org. You can also see adorable photos of manatees in local waters by clicking through the gallery above.
Below is my list of reasons to love manatees, it’s by no means scientific so take it as you will.
1. They’re one of the few animals you can safely interact with in their natural habitat. There are several tour groups across Florida that allow visitors the chance to swim with manatees. I did it once and I nearly cried tears of joy. However, if you are not on one of these tours, do not ever attempt to touch a manatee — it could get you arrested.
2. They’re nice, probably. I’ve never heard of a manatee hurting anyone or anything, which leads me to believe they’re probably pretty nice. I think technically the word is “harmless,” but nice sounds better.
3. They can give hugs. It’s true, I wrote a blog post about it.
4. They have whiskers. Aside from making the manatee’s face even more adorable, it’s not exactly clear why manatees have whiskers. It’s believed they’re sensory in function, but it doesn’t really matter because whiskers are great no matter what they’re used for.
5. They can live to be pretty old. The oldest manatee in captivity is Snooty and he’s 67 years old. You can go visit him at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton or you can watch him from the comfort of your own home using the site’s Snooty Cam.
6. They’re vegetarians. The manatee’s wholesome image will never be ruined by pictures of it covered in its enemy’s blood. They have no known predators, other than human recklessness, so they really have no reason to defend themselves, even if they could. Plus never having to hunt or fight means they get to be especially lazy, something manatees and I have in common.
7. Despite having small brains, they’re actually pretty smart. They aren’t quite on the same level as dolphins, but manatees can perform simple tasks and differentiate colors, according to the Smithsonian.
Have your own suggestion? Feel free to leave a comment telling me why you love manatees.