Manatee Trivia (Part 6)… The Steller’s Sea Cow!
The Steller’s Sea Cow was discovered in 1741 by explorers navigating the Arctic Circle. This marine mammal was huge…with a length up to 30 feet and weight up to 8 tons or more. There was an abundance of their population in the North Pacific. Unfortunately, in less than 20 years the Steller’s Sea Cow went extinct from human hunting.
In this, my six installment on manatee trivia for you, I’ll be talking about the largest relative in the manatee order called, the Sirenians. And I know you’ll be amazed at this magnificent marine mammal, the Steller’s Sea Cow. This giant herbivore in the manatee family was incredibly large! Get this… it measured some 30 feet in length and it tipped the scale at 8 to 10 tons. That’s almost as big as a school bus! The Steller’s Sea Cow was related to the dugong, as evidenced with its fluke shaped tail. Contrast this to the paddle shaped tail on its three manatee relatives, the West Indian Manatee, the West African Manatee, and the Amazonian Manatee.
The Steller’s Sea Cow was discovered in 1741 by explorers navigating the Arctic Circle. There was an abundance of their population in the North Pacific. Unfortunately, in less than 20 years the Steller’s Sea Cow went extinct from human hunting.
Interestingly, the Steller’s Sea Cow was named after George Steller, a German-born zoologist and botanist, who actually discovered the marine mammal. Steller served as a naturalist on the ship St. Peter in the years 1741 and 1742, which was part of the Great Northern Expedition. The expedition mapped a northern sea route starting in Russia and extending over to North America. Steller said, “The animal never comes out on shore, but always lives in the water. Its skin is black and thick, like the bark of an old oak, its head in proportion to the body is small, it has no teeth, but only two flat white bones one above, the other below.”
Research said that the “Steller’s Sea Cow was a tame animal that spent most of its time munching on kelp.” And since it was so huge, its body breached the water and made it an easy target for human hunters. In addition to kelp, it fed on seaweed, and other aquatic plants that weren’t that deep in the water.
Another interesting fact with the Steller’s Sea Cow is it was the only member of the Sirenian family that had a large amount of fat on its body to protect it from the very cold waters surrounding Alaska.
Stay tuned for more of my manatee trivia!
If you are in Florida and you see a sick or injured manatee, 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