American Oceans

Are Manatees Friendly?

Have you ever wondered, are manatees friendly? If so, you’ve come to the right place!

manatee swimming

While their gentle and slow nature may lead some to believe that these creatures can be affectionate pets, remember the manatees in our oceans deserve respect and should not be disturbed.

This article looks at what makes these sea mammals so special and mentions facts and interesting details about these marine mammals. You won’t want to miss out as we explore the fascinating world of manatees!

What Is a Manatee?

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are gentle aquatic mammals found in shallow coastal and river systems in various locations, including the Caribbean, South America, and Central America.

young manatee close up

These creatures have an average lifespan of 60-65 years. A manatee’s body is torpedo-shaped, gray-brown in color, with a rounded head, a flattened paddle-shaped tail, and paddle-like flippers for maneuvering through their natural habitat.

Despite their intimidating size, they are gentle and curious creatures.

This mammal’s diet consists of eating sea grasses, like turtle grass, eelgrass, tape grass, and other vegetation they find on the ocean floor and spending most of their days grazing. 

Manatee Migration

Manatees move south during the cooler months of winter and travel back north during spring and summer days when the warm weather allows them to.

Even though these animals may sometimes migrate away from their original habitat, many still stay behind all year round, adapting even in years with colder temperatures.

Do Manatees Live in Groups?

Manatees are very social animals and do enjoy the company of others. Groups don’t usually exceed half a dozen, but these creatures often congregate in a given area and share food.

Manatees also can recognize other individuals within the group, creating a sense of community among their species. It’s no wonder these impressive creatures have survived in the wild for so long!

Conservation of Manatees

The good news is that the conservation status of manatees has been improving! Yet despite this progress, they are still a threatened species that remain on the endangered species list.


Recently, human activity, like boat traffic, has become an issue for this species’ conservation status.

Thankfully, many organizations and governments have set laws for their protection. The United States Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) ensures the future of manatee populations through its Marine Mammal Protection Act and its Endangered Species Act.

Additionally, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has established rigorous standards to monitor the effects of climate change on these animals and take appropriate steps to conserve them.

The Wildlife Conservation Commission also works hard to ensure these animals have safe habitats and protection from harm due to human impacts.

Why Are Manatees Friendly to Humans?

We know manatees are friendly, but we must ask, why are manatees friendly?

Manatee touching human

Manatees are one of the most beloved sea creatures, known to enjoy human interaction, unlike some other animals.

It’s believed that when individuals encounter humans, manatees aren’t threatened or scared but rather curious about them.

Little to No Predators

Manatees have very few predators, particularly in certain regions like North America, where they are protected. The main predators are shark and killer whale species, but these animals rarely interact with them in their natural habitat.

This lack of natural predators could be why manatees seem to enjoy interaction with humans; they never evolved to fear human interaction, so they look forward to it when we come around!

Their Maternal Instinct

Nursing manatee calf

The manatees’ maternal instinct is one of the most intriguing aspects of their character.

It’s fascinating to watch them approach and even interact with humans, just like a mother would care for her baby.

Manatees have a natural urge to monitor and defend young calves, which explains why their temperament and superior communication skills have gained them a better understanding of humans and our behaviors.

Their Herbivore Diet

Being herbivorous mammals is the key to explaining why manatees are such friendly creatures.

Florida Manatee eating

Many people may be surprised to learn that one of the main factors in this trait is diet.

Being strict plant-eaters means they don’t hunt and rely on humans for their food sources, which allows them to show less fear toward us.

Manatees are also naturally curious, so they see us as an opportunity to learn and explore rather than a threat.

6 Manatee Facts

Manatees are very interesting and loved creatures with much to learn from.

  • Manatees are warm-blooded mammals, even though they live in the water.
  • These curious animals love interacting with humans but can also be frightened if we’re too loud or aggressive.
  • Manatees can weigh more than 3,500 pounds.
  • Manatees can stay underwater for up to 20 minutes.
  • They are slow swimmers and typically travel at around 5 miles per hour but can reach up to 15 miles per hour.
  • Manatee communication uses a variety of sounds, such as whistles, chirps, and squeaks.

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