With November comes Thanksgiving, football and a whole lot of food. The idea of the beach and the ocean may escape your mind as the days get shorter, colder and more dreary. However, November is Manatee Awareness Month. Yes, that's a thing. Here are 15 facts to make you more aware of these lovely sea cows.
1. The idea originated in Florida
Manatees are Florida's official marine mammal. Back in 2005, the idea was passed to promote the protection of manatees.
2. Manatees are mermaids
Well, kind of. They're part of the Sirenia order. Sirenia is derived from the Greek word 'siren.' in Greek mythology, sirens were half-fish half-women and lured sailors to the water before seducing them and drowning them.
3. They're gentle giants
Manatees just want to float and be left alone. Sometimes people think it's okay to ride them. Don't do that. It messes with their natural routines and may stress them out. If you see a manatee, leave it be.
4. Manatees are no longer endangered!
Habitat loss, as well as human activity such as boating, once made the manatees one of the animals on the threated species list. As of 2016, they have been removed from the list.
5. Christopher Columbus thought a manatee was a mermaid.
He said they were "not as beautiful as expected." He also did a whole bunch of other unspeakable things so honestly, he's irrelevant and clearly not the sharpest tool in the shed.
6. Sea cows
That is all. Manatees are slow and round and sea cows. I wonder if they eat sea cucumbers.
7. Manatee molars regenerate
Manatees are constantly grinding down their molars when chewing up their mostly vegetation diet. Their molars regenerate to adapt to the abrasive diet.
8. Manatees are sea cows but aren't related to cows.
I hope that was a common sense fact, but you could get pretty confused with the nickname. Manatees are closer in relationship to elephants than cows.
9. Manatees prefer salt and fresh water
Most marine mammals and animals can only tolerate one type of water. Manatees can live in both saltwater and freshwater ecosystems. Their kidneys and other internal regulation systems make sure salt levels never get too high or too low. Pretty flippin' cool.
Flippin' like flippers... get it?
10. They like it hot hot hot
Manatees need water that is 60 degrees or warmer, sticking to warm water tributaries or dumping pools of power plants that have hot water being deposited into the environment. In 2010, 246 manatees died from being too cold because there were colder than normal winters in Florida. Climate change is real, y'all.
11. Amazonian manatees are not a myth
The water of the Amazon river is murky and the manatees have a secretive way if life, making it hard to track and count how many are in the wild. Unlike the manatees of Florid that can bounce between water types, Amazonian manatees need to stay in freshwater environments.
12. Manatees aren't that smart
I mean, looking at them, they don't look like they would be as clever as a dolphin. Their brains are smooth which means they don't have ridges and divets for cortical folds. The ratio of their brain size to the size of their body is also the smallest of any mammal.
13. Take a breath, and hold it for three to five minutes, or twenty.
When a human breathes, they replace 10 percent of the air in their lungs. When a manatee breathes, 90 percent of the air in their lungs is replaced. This helps them stay submerged for periods of up to twenty minutes.
14. 99 problems and a missing vertebra is one of them.
Humans and all other mammals have seven vertebrae. Well, you're supposed to. Tree sloths and manatees are an exception. Manatees have six vertebrae which scientists think is due to their slow metabolism.
15. Baby manatees are so cute
This is a fact and an opinion. Science and I back it and support it. Female manatees have one calf every two to five years. Unlike some mammals that stay with their mother for six months before packing their bags and shipping out, manatee calves will stay with their mothers for two years.