The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is a subspecies of the West Indian Manatee.
Almost all manatees in the United States live in Florida waters, although they have been known to range as far north as Rhode Island and as far west as Texas.
Manatees are native to Florida; their fossilized remains date back to the prehistoric period and can be found in many Native American archaeological sites throughout the state.
Volusia County is fortunate to have manatee habitat in the Intracoastal Waterway on the east coast,and the St. Johns River on the west side of the county.
The Florida manatee is a large, dark grey marine mammal with paddle-like forelimbs and a large flat spatulate shaped tail, or fluke. The manatee's body is spindle shaped, and tapers at each end. The average adult Florida manatee weighs around 1,200 pounds and is about 10 feet long, but they can reach up to 13 feet in length and weight 3,500 pounds. Female manatees tend to be larger than the males.
Manatees have a flexible upper lip that is used, along with their forelimbs, to grasp food. Manatee teeth are unusual because the rear molars are constantly growing in, so as the front teeth become worn and fall out, the rear teeth move to the front of the jaw to replace them. Manatees can eat enough vegetation to equal about five to 10 percent of their body weight each day. This means that the average adult manatee may eat from 60 to 120 pounds of fresh plants daily.
To report a dead, sick, injured, harassed or orphaned manatee, call the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission Division of Law Enforcement at 1-888-404-FWCC.