West Indian Manatee Portrait

Preview West Indian Manatee
(© 2004 Smithsonian Institution)

West Indian Manatees, Trichechus manatus, are found in warm, shallow coastal ecosystems along the southeastern North America and northeastern South America. They graze plants in mangrove ecosystems and seagrass beds, occasionally eating small fish or invertebrates. However, they are sensitive to changes in their environment, such as cool water temperatures and harmful algal blooms, along with human threats such as speedboats, hunting, and accidental harm from fishing.