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Manatees and Dugongs, they are bulky but completely harmless animals, so much so that they have always been nicknamed "sea cows". They are herbivorous marine mammals that in the scientific world they are called Sirenids, non-experts often take them for particularly massive seals but in truth, those who have studied their origins, say that they are cousins of elephant seals and only very distant relatives of the seals.
From the morphological point of view, at first glance, Manatees and Dugongs they are similar, they both have the body is stocky and bulky, fins equipped with nails, short, pectoral, flexible in a way difficult to imagine seeing the total mass of these animals. Yet they are very skilled in using them to "feed" as well as to caress other similar ones. In addition to the fins, Manatees and Dugongs to move they also use the tail which very much resembles a paddle, wide and muscular.
Manatees and Dugongs: differences
To distinguish Manatees and Dugongs it is necessary to carefully observe the tail: the former have it rounded, the latter are sickle-shaped. THE Manatees, in addition, they also have a split upper lip and sparse hair all over their body.
Often they don't even share spaces, because if you look closely at their distribution on a map, you can see that the Dugongs prefer the coastal waters of the Indian Ocean and the Western Pacific, while the Manatees those of the eastern coasts ofCentral and South America. There is also a character difference between Manatees and Dugongs, the former are extroverted and sociable, while the dugongs are more shy and solitary.
To distinguish these two marine mammals, we had to dwell on some details, but we cannot but say that they are quite similar and it is not serious if we confuse them. On the other hand we are faced with two animals with a massive body covered with thick leathery skin, able to remain underwater for up to twenty minutes without breathing.
Man in the past has chased them, both for eat its meat, both to use the abundant fat that covers them, today we are no longer directly their enemies, but we are indirectly, because we pollute their habitat or we hurt them with boat propellers.
Manatees and Dugongs: where they live
In general Manatees and Dugongs they live both in rivers and in coastal waters if they are shallow. There are three species of Manatees which are localized respectively in Africa, Florida and the Antilles, and finally in the fresh waters of the Orinoco, then there is the Dugong, more Australian in terms of frequentation.
At ease in their habitat, they spend 5 hours minimum "resting", every day, motionless or floating or with the snout on the bottom, stuck. They look like they are in a trance, they look "fake", but every 3 or 4 minutes they come back to the surface to breathe with two nostrils on the "tip" of the muzzle, emerging from the surface of the water only for what is needed.
Manatees and Dugongs: what they eat
They sleep a lot, but they also eat these marine animals that hang out in brackish or marine waters, shallow, but certainly not turbid. They are not at all mean or aggressive, and not even lonely, indeed you can see them cuddle each other, interact in a sociable way, or even motionless while grazing. They therefore feed on mutual tenderness, but that's not enough!
To stand "upright" Manatees and Dugongs they eat plants and algae, when they don't sleep, so they dine, at least 8 hours a day. Females waiting for a puppy, eat for even more hours, give birth after 13 months, only one puppy at a time, and after six months of weaning, they keep their child close for a couple of years.
Manatees and Dugongs: curiosities
One of the first to see these animals and to talk about them was ours Christopher Columbus, in 1493, while sailing off the coast of present-day Haiti. It must be said that more than admiring them, he was frightened by them, because of the mass and the strange shape, a little influenced by the many legends that revolved at that time about the sirens, capable of attracting sailors with the bewitching voice and the charm of creatures among reality and fantasy.
Today we know that there is nothing to fear, but we can joking around by applying a nice sticker "Alarm for manatees"
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