Lifeform of the week: Florida manatee

Manatees and elephants have a common ancestor, and both have uncommonly shaped spherical hearts. Check out this sweet video from Three Sisters Springs, Crystal River, Florida.

View larger. | Here's looking at you, kid.  Florida manatee via USGS on Facebook.

View larger. | Here’s looking at you, kid. Florida manatee via USGS on Facebook.

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.

Manatees and elephants are related. Check out these cool manatee facts.

Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission on how you can help Florida manatees

Deborah Byrd