Greetings! Today I’d like to talk about the difference between a manatee and a sea cow. Guess what? There actually is no difference! All of us manatees are big, very slow moving, curious, marine mammals spending the majority of our time eating a nice in-water vegetarian diet, resting, and traveling. Then where did the name sea cow come from?
Well, when you think about it, a cow is also big, slow moving, and eats a nice vegetarian diet. The only difference is that cows don’t live in the water. Manatees do live in the water and are related to elephants.
Looking closer at the manatee diet, all of us manatees are herbivores (plant eaters). And we are usually very hungry. Why? Because manatees eat 10% to 15% of our bodyweight every day! That means a 1,000-pound manatee will eat 100 to 150 pounds of plants each day. Our diet consists of submerged seagrass beds and also freshwater vegetation.
The most common marine seagrass in the manatee diet includes; manatee grass, turtle grass, shoal grass and widgeon grass. And the most common freshwater vegetation for the manatee diet includes; tapegrass, eelgrass, hydrilla, water lettuce, and water hyacinth.
So, a manatee can be called a sea cow for the above reasons, however that’s about it for the commonality that exists between the two. Manatees evolved from giant land animals in Africa about 60 million years ago. As their evolution continued some stayed on land and became elephants, while the others adapted to water and became manatees.
These manatees eventually migrated to Florida about 50 million years ago. While cows where first brought to the Americas by explorer Christopher Columbus. These cows originated from two extinct wild beasts from India and Europe, a new genetic analysis shows.
Because the breeds analyzed, including the longhorn, have been closely connected to humans, the results could shed light on human migration over the past 10,000 years, said study co-author Emily Jane McTavish, an evolutionary biology doctoral candidate at the University of Texas at Austin, whose mascot is the longhorn cow.
Stay tuned for my future blogs!
If you see any sick or injured manatees, please call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission at: 1-888-404-FWCC. They are the folks who are responsible for rescuing us in Florida.
Here’s the Save the Manatee Club link to learn more about us manatees …
Here’s a cool link for you to learn more about how we’re rescued and brought into rehabilitation …
~ Kobee Manatee