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Sea Cow The manatee is a calm and peaceful sea mammal that can be appreciated for its outright serenity During a trip to Florida last summer I was fortunate enough to come in close contact with a manatee As I was standing in the ocean at about 30 meters from the shore a large group of children was forming in the water As I approached them to learn why they had gathered together I saw the dark rotund form of the manatee nearing underwater The children were delighted at the sight of the sea cow though it truly didnt seem to notice that anyone was even around it As the manatee slowly and gently passed by me I gained a new admiration for the creature and for its passive approach towards Waller Through my research I found many new reasons to appreciate the beautiful manatee The manatee is a mammal and it bares the honor of being the only full aquatic freshwater herbivore Bateman 343 This distinction has garnered the manatee the none-too-flattering nickname of the Sea Cow Manatees along with dugongs are members of the Sirenia order named as such since early mariners confused the Manatee for mermaids or sea sirens Current theories speculate that the manatee may have first appeared around 27 million years ago There are currently three species of manatee including the West Indian manatee the West African manatee and the Amazonian manatee Bateman 341 A fourth known as Stellers sea cow was hunted to extinction by fur traders in the short space of 27 years after its discovery in 1741 by the naturalist GW Steller on Bering Island Waller 420 The manatee is a stocky creature a trait associated with all sirenians The manatees are characterized by their slow and languid movements They are capable of more rapidity but possess few predators outside of mankind that would force them to flee Bateman 342 The manatee is found in tropical waters
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