West Indian Manatee
By Darius Darr
October 18, 2019
Right here in Florida we house more than six-thousand West Indian Manatee: an astoundingly massive marine mammal. Manatee have elephant-like skin, a round tail-like appendage called a fluke, and two flippers on their belly side each with fingernails (or should I say flipper nails!). The faces of these majestic creatures have two little eyes settled into their head, a large snout with two nostrils at the end, and a whisker covered mouth. Manatee are the only marine mammals left in existence who are herbivores, and believe it or not their closest living relative is the elephant!
Many West Indian Manatee reside in the Indian River Lagoon System which takes up a large portion of Florida’s east coast covering over two-thousand square miles. These marine mammals were taken off the endangered species list back in 2017 but remain threatened. This means that we cannot hunt, feed, chase, or give water to manatee we encounter. Many areas in the lagoon call for reduced boat speed to protect manatee due to the large amount of accidents between manatee and boat propellers as manatee tend to stay in the deep boating channels of the lagoon. They have no known predators besides humans and humanity is now doing its best to keep these amazing animals alive.
We have a good chance of seeing these massive mammals on our daytime kayak tours in the Indian River Lagoon System. Even though most adult manatee weigh right around one-thousand pounds, they are very gentle beings and are completely safe to be around. The only worry we have is kayaking onto a manatee’s back and startling it, thus risking being flipped out of your kayak and taking a swim in the water. We often spot manatee on our tours through the Cocoa Beach Thousand Islands so, if you want a chance to experience the West Indian Manatee in person come join on us on a daytime kayaking adventure through the Indian River Lagoon System!