Myakka River Manatees

Manatee are seen often within the dark warm waters of the slow moving and sleepy Myakka River. It’s a practically perfect and natural place for them to be, especially in winter seasons. Manatee are plant eating migratory marine mammals. They prefer warm, slow moving shallow canals, inlets, rivers, and estuaries where vegetation such as water hyacinth, turtle grass, mangrove leaves, and algae is plentiful. An adult manatee will consume 80 to 100 pounds of vegetation¬† a day to maintain the 10 foot 1000 pound bodies. they can however grow to 13 feet in length and 3500 pounds!

The Myakka River is largely in a natural state with miles of floating and submerged vegetati0n to feed upon. The dark waters (from various tannins) of the Myakka River also tend to stay warmer than local gulf and bay temperatures. Add to that a lower traffic level than seen in most waterways, and it becomes a very attractive winter hide away for the Florida Manatee.

manatee Myakka River Manatees

The Florida Manatee is a sub species of the West Indian Manatee. Their reproduction rate is quite low, with births normally occurring from 2 to 5 years apart after they reach maturity of about 7 years.¬† A single calf is gestated in just over 12 months, and twins are very rare. A new calf will weigh around 60 pounds, will nurse and eat vegetation, and be dependent upon it’s mother for up to 2 years.

The Myakka River is a safer place than most for the Florida Manatee. Unmolested a manatee will enjoy a normal lifespan of up to 60 years. Most manatee deaths that have been recorded are attributed to encroachment (taking away habitat and food sources) or direct human contact (watercraft collision, fishing nets, hooks, lines). Regardless of the reason, manatee population is last reported around 2500 individuals in the entire United States.

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