Endangered Species: Manatee

A Christiansburg Elementary Project
Submitted by Alexa of Christiansburg Elementary School
Christiansburg, VA, U.S.A.


Photographer Unknown

Why Study This Topic? What Was Already Known Search for Information Description of Plant or Animal Habitat Requirements
Adaptations Reasons for Endangerment Restoration Actions What Was Learned Conclusions from Research

Why Study This Topic?

  I want to learn about this amazing animal because animals, especially this one, are interesting forms of life. I would like to find out how they are endangered. I want to learn about this animal because I don't know much about it. I would like to know why people used to kill it. I want to know a lot about this animal so maybe, in the future, I will be able to help it from being killed. I want to find out the way pollution is getting into its habitat and stop it from damaging its home. I would like to find out how it can stay underwater when it doesn't have gills. I want too find out how it adapts to its habitat. I want to know if it has camouflage. I would like to know if it has any closely related species.

What Was Already Known

  Before I research this animal, I already know a little about it. I knew it's basic shape and size. I knew that the manatee was a mammal. I knew it was a water animal, and could hold it's breath for quite a while. I knew that one of the predators of a manatee are boats. I am aware of the manatee being a strict vegetarian. I knew that the manatee has a large space to roam around in. Right now, I know that manatees are tame by nature.

Search for Information

  The problems I encountered while searching for facts on the Internet were finding too many links to manatee clubs that you could join. A lot of the websites didn't have many facts. I looked for websites for a while, then went to the encyclopedia. After looking in the encyclopedia, I had enough facts for my entire research. After I did that, I went home and looked on our CD-Rom encyclopedia. By then, I had enough facts to do me for a lifetime, but I still wanted to do more. So I looked in my Natural History book. I added the facts that I had recently found to my report, then put it in my folder and went to school.

Description of Plant or Animal

  The manatee shape is weird: it is fat, it has whiskers, two flippers, and a tail. An average baby weighs about eighteen kilograms and is about one meter long. An adult weighs from two hundred twenty-five kilograms, and is about 2.5-4.5 meters long. A nickname for a manatee is a sea cow, because it looks like a cow. A long time ago, they were mistaken for mermaids because they also look a little like people. The manatee has teeth specially designed for eating seaweed.

Habitat Requirements

  The manatee lives in shallow bays in the ocean. It has lots of space in it's home. It is a vegetarian there for its biggest food is sea grass. It eats that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Occasionally, it finds other foods and sometimes eats them. The manatee really doesn't have much shelter from boats because the water is so shallow. They are also too heavy to move out of the way of boats quickly enough.


  The predators of a manatee are not like predators of other animals. The biggest predator for the manatee is a boat propeller. In South America, hunters kill manatees for their meat. Since the manatee's color is dark, most boats can't see it. If the manatee was hunted a lot, their dark color would be good camoflauge. In Florida, manatees and their habitat are protected by the law. Their skin is thick, so that helps it from being badly hurt when it gets poked by sea thorns.

Reasons for Endangerment

  Many years ago, manatees roamed the sea, but now they are close to extinction from hunters and boats. There was a close relative of the manatee that is now extincted called the Stellers Sea Cow. The Stellers Sea Cow has been extinct for over twenty years now. In Florida, the biggest predator to a manatee is a boat. Boats have two bad things for manatees: its propeller, and its gasoline. Boats aren't the only thing threatening the manatee with pollution. Chemical plants are a big threat. The chemicals from them run into the ocean bays from rivers, destroying the manatee's habitat.

Restoration Actions

  The government has taken some action to protect manatees. If you are caught killing or harming manatees, you will be sentenced to five or more years in prison. When I'm an adult, I plan to help stop people from hunting manatees. If it was up to me to make the punishment, it would be life in prison. I think life in prison should be the punishment for killing or harming any endangered species. I think toxic liquids should be disposed of properly, not dumped in rivers or lakes or ocean. Pollution is having a big impact on marine life and I want to stop it.

What Was Learned

  I learned that manatees are still being hunted. I learned many great facts about this amazing animal from my research. I learned that the manatee was mistaken for a mermaid. I also learned that there are over twelve different species of manatee. I learned that there are many great websites about manatees on the Internet. This reseach was very helpful to me by showing me many interesting facts that I didn't know. I learned that the manatee is a very tame animal by nature. I now know how wiskers are helpful to the manatee

Conclusions From Research

  Now I know how many species of manatee there are. I know that they are a lot different from sea walruses. For one thing, they don't have tusks and are not mean. They are mammals, which I didn't know. I now know that they double their size and weight. They can live to over sixty five years. That is an old age for even humans and definitely animals. I'm aware of the manatee being a source of food for South Americans. I now know how great an animal the manatee is.


World Book Encyclopedia. (1986). Manatee.

New Book of Knowledge. (1986) Grolier Inc., Danbury: Connecticut. pages 65-77.


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Christiansburg Elementary
Last updated on March 9, 1998