Amazonian Manatee, an almost extinct herbivorous marine mammal.

My interest in the Amazonian Manatee was sparked by a TV documentary that included Stephen Fry and his search to seek a Manatee in the wild.

Amazonian Manatee.
Reportedly this Manatee frequents placid lakes close to Amazon tributaries in the Amazon basin, but these marine mammals do not venture into salt water. They can grow up to three metres and can weigh in at up to
550 kilograms (1,200 pounds.) 

Photograph from Wikipedia

Quite unique amongst mammals the Manatee teeth are continuously replaced during their life cycle, new teeth grow at the rear and older teeth fall out from their forward mouth placement.

Being a mammal, the Manatee needs to breathe in fresh air, but may stay under water for up to 20 minutes.

Typical breeding in once every two years and it is about 5 years before they commence to breed, gestation is about a year, and a Manatee mother takes from 12 to 18 months to wean her calf.  

In Stephen's doco, no Manatee was found in the wild, and the species may well be on the way to extinction, although legally protected, poachers make inroads on these unusual marine creatures.

Totally a herbivore, a Manatee may eat up to 10% of its body weight daily, like cows they love to eat, and are thus sometimes called sea cows, a Manatee also is very flatulent, emitting a very vicious overpowering fart.

The Manatee has a large paddle like tail used to propel it quite quickly through the water, and its two flippers almost like feet are used to move across the bottom in a walking like gait.

Stephen had to be content to viewing some Manatees in an Amazon research station where captured mammals are scientifically studied before being again released into the wild.

He had a nasty fall trying to move from a small boat to a larger River vessel, breaking his right arm in three places, necessitating a hospital visit and a subsequent operation.

The Manatee is one of our world's most unusual fresh water mammals about which I had little or no knowledge.                

Note: Photograph from Wikipedia.


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