Anna Maria Island – Perhaps one of Florida’s most interesting aquatic mammals, the Manatee has an unusual and fascinating story to tell. This information page is to help with finding Manatees around Anna Maria Island.
The Florida Manatee is a large grayish brown mammal with thick wrinkly skin often covered in algae. They grow to be 10-12 feet in length weighing up to 1,800 pounds, and may live 60 years in the wild. Manatees have a powerful flat tail that propels them through the water. Their front flippers are used to steer them, and occasionally they may use them to crawl along the water bottom or pull themselves partially on land to reach non submerged plant foods. Manatees have small eyes and no outer ear, but this doesn’t stop them from seeing and hearing well.
Manatees are herbivores with a diet consisting of sea grass and freshwater vegetation. Because of their massive intake of sea grass, manatees play an important role in keeping waterways clear of overgrowth. Manatees have specialized molars to aid in chewing the large amounts of food they require to survive. Manatee Molars may wear down, fall out, and are often replaced through out their life.
It is estimated that about 5,000 individuals of the species remain in the wild. Manatees are threatened by boat strikes, pollution, and loss of habitat due to development and increased traffic in Florida waterways.
Manatees prefer water above 68 degrees Fahrenheit and often spend winter in warmer areas such as springs and power plant discharge basins. More commonly Manatees can be found in shallow bays, rivers, estuaries, canals and intercoastal waterways avoiding rougher deep waters like the Gulf of Mexico.
Manatees are typically gentle slow moving creatures, however; when playing and during mating season they may barrel role and thrash in shallow water making a great scene.
Sighting Manatees in the wild can prove to be tricky as their population becomes smaller, but is always a welcome treat. These aquatic relatives of the elephant are majestic and surprisingly graceful in water. When entering the Manatees ecosystem be sure to show a great deal of respect to the animal to ensure future success of the species. When boating or participating in water activities always be sure to follow signs indicating speed limits and the presents of Manatees. When boating wear polarized sunglasses to aid in seeing Manatee grazing in shallow water. Always be sure to keep trash out of water ways and never allow monofilament fishing line to becoming lost in the water.
In addition to finding Manatee in the wild there are a few spots near Anna Maria Island to see Manatees up close in captivity. The South Florida museum, located at 201 10th Street West in downtown Bradenton, has the worlds oldest Manatee in captivity, Snooty. Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, located at 1600 Ken Thompson Parkway in Sarasota, also has a manatee exhibit.
Manatee are not uncommon to the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island, and many have been observed in our shallow canals, bays, and have even been spotted in Gulf waters on rare occasion. If you are nearing the end of your Anna Maria Island vacation and it is winter time then we suggest you take a trip North to Apollo Beach. The Manatees hang out at the power station because of all the warm water discharged from the power station. The Tampa power station has created a Manatee Viewing area for visitors. Just a quick 50 minute drive and if the temperature is below 75 Farenheit you likely wont be disappointed with your trip. Ok, maybe it is tough to cut into your beach time to take the trip? Even better, visit the Manatee CAM at Apollo Beach. You can zoom in and out when it is your turn and you can see Manatees on your computer!
A truly unique animal, the Florida Manatee is a precious part of the Florida ecosystem, and a special feature of the amazing Anna Maria Island experience!
Looking for an Anna Maria Island vacation rental home situated right in the middle of Manatee territory? Island Real Estate has you covered! Located at 209 North Harbor Drive, “Jackie’s Cottage” is a vacation destination known for having great Manatee Sightings.