The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) featured the above image of a Florida manatee on its Facebook page and said:
In 1493 Christopher Columbus possibly mistook these gentle giants for mermaids. But, they are actually a large plant-eating slow moving aquatic mammal.
Short front flippers help them steer or even crawl through shallow waters and strong paddle-shaped tails propel them. A distant relative of the elephant they have thick, wrinkled skin that is grey or brown in color. An average adult is about 10 feet long and weighs between 1,500 and 2,200 pounds with a life expectancy of about 50-60 years.
The major threats to manatee survival are human activities: boat-related injuries and deaths, habitat loss or degradation, and in some countries, hunting.
Don’t love them yet? Try the video below, by William Drumm, who wrote on his YouTube page:
This day was like a dream …
Drumm said he filmed the video on “one amazing day” in Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida. Music by Human Agency.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.