The sea cows have arrived!
Sea cows, also known as manatees, were spotted at Edisto Watersports this past weekend and theyve been popping up all over the waterways in Edisto, Charleston, and the surrounding areas.
The reason it is important to know when manatees are in the area is because they are such slow moving creatures that they can be horribly injured or even killed by boats. Plus, they swim into areas with a lot of traffic (like marinas) and many people feel the need to try and pet them, swim with them, or even harm them.
Manatees are endangered animals in the United States and protected by law, and it is illegal for anyone to interfere with the creatures.
That said, it is not against the law to look at these incredible animals.
Here are some interesting facts about manatees.
- An adult manatee weighs up to 1,200 lbs. They reach this weight by eating up to 10 percent of their body weight every day in marine vegetation like algae, sea grass, and mangrove leaves. Needless to say, manatees are herbivores.
- Although manatees can weigh up to 1,200 lbs., much of their bodies are made up of the stomach and intestines. Since they do not have a lot of fat, they need to stay in waters that is at least 60 degrees.
- When a manatee comes up to the surface of the water, it stays there for three to five minutes to breathe. When theyre under water, they hold their breath for up to 20 minutes.
- When Christopher Columbus was exploring the waterways, he and his crew thought that they had seen mermaids out in the water. It is now known that they were actually seeing manatees. (We still dont know why they thought the roly-poly sea creatures were beautiful sea-ladies).
- Female manatees give birth to one calf every two to five years. The calf stays with the mother for two years to nurse, even though it begins to eat sea plants at just three weeks of age.
- Manatees are extremely slow moving creatures. They can only swim 3-5 miles per hour, which is why boaters need to pay extra attention when boating in waters where manatees have been spotted. In fact, manatees have no natural predators in the wild. Humans are responsible for greatly endangering the species.
Now that you know more about manatees, be sure to respect the creatures if you see them while visiting Edisto. If you happen to see an injured manatee, call the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources at 1-800-922-5431.