share   tweet

Manatees

Manatee with calf
Skip Navigation LinksBroward CountyManatees

Manatees

Manatee Season runs from November 15 through March 31 when hundreds of manatees move south into the warm waters of Broward County​. 

I Spy  a Manatee Mobile App

The ‘I Spy a Manatee’ mobile app is used by Broward County residents and visitors to report manatee sightings to the County’s Environmental Planning and Community Resilience Division and is available for Android and Apple. Use the app to report manatees and their activities, and view manatee protection and boating safety zones in Broward County.

In the app, you can take a picture of the manatee or select a picture from the device's gallery. Enter the sighting information such as number of manatees and and the manatees' activity, and either enter the location or let the device use the location services to find the location for you. When the sighting report is successfully submitted, the manatees of Broward County will thank you.​

Also with the app, you can view a map of the County’s waterways with State-regulated Manatee Protection and Boating Safety zones. With location services active, the map will also display the mobile device’s location on the waterway.  Even without location services active, the map can still display a nearby location if the user provides a valid address. A legend can be accessed to provide an overall list of the Manatee Protection and Boating Safety Zones.​

If you spot a manatee in Broward County, email the information to manatee@broward.org or use the "I Spy A Manatee" mobile app available for Android and iPhone. Download the app from the Google Play Store or the Apple App Store.

About Manatees

Manatees are large, slow-moving marine mammals of the Order Sirenia. The Florida manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris) is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus). The word “manatee” comes from the Spanish word “manati,” although the true origination of the word may date from the native Puerto Rican Taino people, whose translation means “ma” (big) “nati” (chest).

A city named Manatí is located on the north central coast of Puerto Rico (named "Boriken" prior to Spanish discovery) where the name of this marine mammal, "alude directamente al nombre indígena de la ciudad," alludes to the indigenous name of the City.

External Features
 

Manatee External Features  

The average Florida manatee is about 10 feet long and weighs close to 1,200 pounds. Manatees can reach up to 13 feet in length and weigh 3,500 pounds. Female manatees tend to be larger than males. Their calves weigh around 66 pounds and are 4 feet long.

Although they feed in water, manatees exclude most of the water when they swallow, which makes the contents of their stomach relatively dry. Like terrestrial herbivores (plant eaters), manatees have large salivary glands (for lubrication and initial digestion of food).

Manatees do not have hind limbs. Their pelvic bones are vestiges of the more complex structures of their ancestors. The pelvic vestiges are attachment sites for muscles.

A manatee’s mammary glands (milk glands) and teats (one per side) are located behind the fore limbs. The milk glands have no storage sacs (like cattle and goats) so manatee calves suckle frequently at short intervals.

Skeleton

Drawing of a manatee skeleton 

The manatee swims with up and down (dorsoventral) motions of its body and fluke. This is similar to the swimming motions of the cetaceans (dolphins and whales) but is unlike the side to side swimming motions of fish and seals. The muscles of the manatee have little of the myoglobin (muscle hemoglobin) that is typical of the muscles of other diving mammals—this means manatees cannot store as much oxygen as seals and dolphins, which is reflected in their relatively short (8-15 minute) and shallow (10-20 feet) dives.

 

A manatee’s teeth are similar to the molars of some other mammals and are located in the back half of the lower and upper jaws. Manatee teeth are unique in that they are replaced horizontally, as opposed to vertically as in most other mammals. Tooth replacement is continuous (polyphyodont) throughout their lives, as opposed to that of other mammals which replace a single set of teeth once in a lifetime (diphyodont). 

 

The ribs of the manatee arch up to allow the lungs to be positioned much higher along the vertebral column than is found in most other mammals. The elongated lung distributes the buoyant forces along more of the body than would be possible in a more typically shaped lung (thus helping the manatee to float horizontally). This orientation also minimizes the pressure differences between different parts of the lung.

 

Their ribs and other long bones lack marrow cavities, which produces a dense and relatively heavy skeleton. Marrow, which produces red blood cells, is mostly restricted to the centra (bodies) of the vertebrae and possibly the sternum. Manatees do not have hind limbs. Their pelvic bones are vestiges of the more complex structures of their ancestors. The pelvic vestiges are attachment sites for muscles.

Internal Organs

Internal Organ chart  

Like the horse, manatees are hind-gut digesters as opposed to fore-gut digesters (like the cow). This means that more of the digestive processes occur further along the intestinal tract. It takes about seven days for material to pass through the manatee’s digestive system.
The manatees blood is very important in transporting heat and regulating body temperature.

Manatee lungs are unique—unlike other mammal lungs that are positioned around the heart and extend backwards over the stomach and liver, manatee lungs are flattened and elongated. The lungs extend horizontally along the back almost to the anus. The branching pattern of the bronchi (the primary air tubes) and blood vessels is simpler in manatees than in other mammalian lungs. 

The muscles of the manatee have little of the myoglobin (muscle hemoglobin) that is typical of the muscles of other diving mammals—this means manatees cannot store as much oxygen as seals and dolphins, which is reflected in their relatively short (8-15 minute) and shallow (10-20 feet) dives. 

Manatees live in both fresh and salt water. Their kidneys filter blood to control levels of salt and to maintain water balance. The urinary bladder stores urine until it is advantageous to dump it into the environment.

Manatees have relatively small brains when compared to other mammals of their size. Their brains are very smooth, having few of the surface ‘folds’ that are associated with higher intelligence in other mammals.

For more information about the manatee brain, visit The Brain of the Florida Manatee Web Site.

Text and photos for this page are provided by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). For more information, visit FWC’s Web site featuring frequently asked questions and answers about manatees.​​

Manatee Protection Plan

Manatee protection plans are developed to ensure the long-range protection of the manatee species and its habitat. The intent of the Broward County Manatee Protection Plan is to implement additional manatee protection measures, including increased law enforcement, manatee monitoring, education and awareness, throughout the County's waterways that are accessible to manatees. 
As part of the Plan, the Board of County Commissioners adopted Ordinance No. 2007-34, which, beginning October 1, 2008:
  • Established a $400 (with a 4% annual increase) per new slip fee for new marine facilities or existing marine facilities undergoing expansion.
  • Sets an annual manatee conservation fee of $20 (with a 4% annual increase) per slip for all facilities with five or more slips (multi-family residential, commercial, municipal and private marinas, and/or boat ramps).
  • To help document and track the number of slips in the County, requires facilities with five or more slips to apply for an annual Marine Facility Operating License.

Marine Facility Operating License

Facilities with five or more slips (multi-family residential, commercial, municipal and private marinas, and/or boat ramps) are required to have a Marine Facility Operating License. If you have questions or need assistance in filling out the application, or determining the number of slips at your facility, please contact the Beach and Marine Resources Section.
 

Manatee Protection Plan Slip Availability Status

Manatee North
Waterway
Zone
Central
Waterway
Zone
South Waterway Zone
South Fork New River Dania
Cutoff
Middle C-10 Canal
Dania Cutoff Canal West Tot​al
MPP approved slips 1,353 619 1,033 471 806 110 4,392
Slips allocated 160 287 977 292 66 74 1,856
Balance remaining 1,193 332 56 179 740 36 2,536
 
  • Updated 11/15/2018
  • Slip availability will be updated as slips are allocated and licenses issued.

Manatee Survey Flights


Conducting aerial surveys is one of the most successful ways to determine where manatees are in Broward County. Periodic helicopter flights allow for the greatest flexibility in speed and altitude to survey all tidally influenced waterways between Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties. You can learn more and see live footage within Dr. Pat Quinn's interview with the Sun Sentinel here.

Manatee Survey Results - 03/28/18

​Location ​# Manatees
North Fork New River 0
New River 1
South Fork New River 0
North New River Canal 0
FPL Cooling Lakes 10
Dania Cutoff Canal 0
Intracoastal Waterway from Port Everglades South 0
FPL Port Cooling Canal 0
Intracoastal Waterway North of Port Everglades 0
Atlantic Ocean 0
TOTAL 11

Historical Manatee Survey Results

2015​​ ​​2016​ ​ 2017​ ​ ​​​ 2018​ ​
Survey
Date
#Manatees Survey Date​ ​#Manatees ​Survey Date​ #Manatees​
​Survey Date​
#Manatees​
01/07/15 202​​ 01/17/16 ​81 01/05/17 ​132 01/04/18​ ​528
01/14/15 *cxl ​01/13/16 151​ 01/10/17 ​252 ​01/08/18 ​767
01/21/15 369 ​01/20/16 ​623​ 01/17/17 ​211 ​01/17/18 ​759
01/28/15 390 ​01/25/16 876 01/23/17 ​234 ​01/25/18 ​721
02/04/15 481 ​02/02/16 ​870 01/31/17 ​324 ​01/30/18 ​688
02/12/15 625 02/12/16​ 880​ 02/07/17 ​281 ​02/07/18 ​350
02/16/15 665 ​​02/17/16 ​770 02/16/17 130​​ ​02/14/18 110​
02/24/15 452 ​02/25/16 ​256​​
02/23/17
​39 ​02/22/18 25​
03/13/15 103 ​03/04​/16 245 03/02/17 ​11 02/28/18​ 11​
03/11/15 24 ​03/11/16 ​49 03/07/17 ​16 ​03/09/18 19​
03/17/15 15 ​03/18/16 ​17 03/14/17 ​10 ​03/14/18 13​
03/25/15 13 ​03/23/16 22 03/22/17 ​9 ​03/22/18 12​​
05/12/15 2 04/01/16​​​ ​14 03/29/17 ​13 03/28/18​ ​22
07/09/15 10 07/28/16 ​7​​ 05/09/17 ​23 ​11/20/18   10​
10/27/15 5 ​10/25/16 ​3 08/30/17 ​7 ​11/29/18 11​
11/15/15
*cxl
11/18/16​ ​13 10/26/17 4​​
​11/22/15​ ​*cxl ​11​/23/​16​ ​36 11/16/17 ​9
12/01/15 9 11/30/16​ ​138 11/20/17 11​
12/10/15 23 12/07/16​ ​234 11/30/17 27​
12/16/15 38 12/14/16​ ​149 12/06/17 44​
12/23/15 48 12/20/16​​​ ​*cxl 12/12/17 78​
12/29/15 63 12/27/16 97 12/19/17 385​
*flight cancelled due to weather ​​​​​​

Manatee Mortality

The Florida manatee is listed as “threatened” by the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Service lists eight categories of manatee death: watercraft, flood gate/canal lock, other human related, perinatal, cold stress, other natural, undetermined and verified/not recovered. For more information on these categories, visit the FWC Manatee Web Site.

  • ​2017 - 13 mortalities: Six were watercraft-related, one was natural, and six were undetermined.
  • 2016 - 18 mortalities: Five were watercraft-related, one was perinatal, four were natural, and eight were undetermined.
  • 2015 - 13 mortalities: One was watercraft-related, one was flood gate/canal lock, one was perinatal, two were cold stress, one was natural, and seven were undetermined.
  • 2014 - 7 mortalities: Two were watercraft-related, one was perinatal, and four were undetermined.
  • 2013 - 16 mortalities: Two were watercraft-related, one was flood gate/canal lock, one was perinatal, one was cold stress, and eleven were undetermined.
  • 2012 - 15 mortalities: Three were watercraft-related, one was flood gate/canal lock, three were perinatal, one was cold stress, one was natural, and six were undetermined. 
​​