Manatee, a large, seal-like aquatic mammal. One of the three species if found along the Atlantic coast and in coastal rivers from northern South America to the southeastern United States, including Florida. The second species lives in the upper waters of the Amazon and Orinoco river of South America. The third species is found in western Africa. The manatee and the related dugong of southeastern Asia are often called sea cows.The manatee weighs up to 1,500 pounds.
The average adult manatee is about 10 feet (3 m) long and weighs from 1,200 to 1,500 pounds (545 to 680 kg). It is dark gray, thick-skinned, and nearly hairless, and lacks hind limbs. Its broad, spade-shaped tail is used chiefly for swimming. The manatee has no front teeth, but plucks grass and aquatic plants with its two-lobed upper lip. It pushes the food into its mouth with its small front flippers. The animal feeds in shallow water, where the cow nurses her young while standing almost erect on her tail.
All three species of manatees are in danger of extinction because of habitat destruction, water pollution, and hunting. Many manatees die from injuries caused by powerboats.
Manatees make up the genus Trichechus of the manatee family, Trichechidae.