Fun Facts About Manatees

by | Mar 15, 2021 | Manatee |

Underwater manatee.

Large, slow-moving and curious, manatees are often called sea cows due to their massive size and adorable faces. Many Florida spring breakers come across these friendly giants while kayaking. And while hugging and hopping on sea manatees is highly illegal, admiring them from a safe distance is encouraged!

Manatees, or sea cows, are incredibly fascinating creatures. Here are some fun facts about the adorable animals that will help you admire them all the more the next time you see them.

The Manatee Myths

Believe it or not, manatees caused quite a stir among sailors who thought they were mermaids! The manatee sightings at sea were one of the defining moments that gave rise to many mermaid sighting stories.

Thanks to hallucinations from sleep deprivation, seasickness, dehydration, and malnutrition, many sailors would often confuse glimpses of manatees as mermaids. In fact, Christopher Columbus also made the same assumption, and went on to lament about mermaids not actually being as beautiful as he had thought and them having masculine features!

Distant Family

You might think that given how the manatee looks and where it resides, its closest ancestor would be the walrus or the seal. However, despite looking like them, the manatee’s closest living relative is not an aquatic animal but an elephant!

Manatees have one-inch-thick skin and three to four toenails, much like elephants. And while they’re not directly related, they do have a lot in common.

Additionally, manatees are mammals, and although they live underwater, they often need to swim to the shore to catch a breather. Manatees replace 90% of the air in their lungs with just one big breath. Depending on their activity level, they can hold their breath underwater for nearly twenty minutes before swimming up again.

Mama Manatees

 Manatee mother with her calf.

A female manatee will stay pregnant for a whole year and will take care of its calf and nurse it for an additional two years. Once the calf is ready to wean off, the female manatee can have another. They usually have a gap of 2-5 years between babies. The female manatee can start breeding as early as three years, while the male manatee begins at five years!

Are you excited to see a manatee mama and her calf swim past your kayak? Book your kayak tour at Cocoa Beach with us, at Adventure Kayak! Our Thousand Island Kayak Tours are ideal for manatee sightings and get you close enough to see the majestic beauties in action. Contact us today for more information on our tours!

James Turner

James Turner


James has 25 years of experience writing, including blogging, copywriting, and sales copywriting. He's a master at writing content that engages readers and gets results, thanks to his years of expertise. James's attention to detail and talent for writing persuasive copy has helped many businesses achieve their marketing goals.

50 Ways to Spend a Day in Cocoa Beach, Florida

Let’s explore 50 ways to spend a day in Cocoa Beach, Florida, a picture-perfect vacation spot with much to do and see for the whole family.

A Memorable Kayaking Tour in Cocoa Beach

The sun shone brightly as the tour group members gathered at Ramp Road Park to prepare for a memorable kayaking tour in Cocoa Beach.

Port Canaveral Travel Guide for Cruise Ship Passengers

Check out this Port Canaveral travel guide for cruise ship passengers to learn more about fun and exciting things to do in Cocoa Beach.

What to Expect to See On Your Kayaking Tour

Not sure what to expect to see on your kayaking tour near Cocoa Beach, Florida? Common sites include dolphins and manatees.

Ready to Go Kayaking?

Book Now