Sea cows are not related to land cows, but their babies are called calves. Here are 11 more facts about these sweet, gentle giants.
1. Manatees aren't actually fat.
Stay with us. Though they look well-insulated, manatees don't actually have much blubber. Instead, their large bodies are packed to the brim with organs.
2. They need warm water.
Because of their lack of blubber, manatees need warm water to survive. When temperatures drop below the 60s, they seek natural warm springs or, more commonly, power plants.
3. One of their closest relatives is a furry land animal that looks like a rodent.
You may know that manatees are closely related to elephants. But did you know both animals are also close relatives of a guinea pig-looking creature called the hyrax? We kind of see the resemblance.
4. Manatees are constantly losing their teeth.
New teeth grow in the back of their mouths as old ones fall out of the front. For an animal that can't brush its teeth, this seems like the next best dental plan.
5. Manatee babies learn how to swim on their own within their first hour of life.
Suddenly all our childhood accomplishments seem way less impressive.
6. Alligators and manatees somehow coexist peacefully.
One manatee expert told PBS that manatees even nudge alligators to get them to move out of their way. Grant us the confidence of a manatee.
7. Manatees have no natural predators — just humans.
It's not just the alligators that leave manatees alone. Unfortunately, however, manatees are still a threatened species, mostly because of humans hitting them with boats.
8. Columbus once mistook manatees for mermaids.
In Haiti, in 1493, Christopher Columbus wrote in his journal that he saw three mermaids. Here's how he described them: "They are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits." We're offended on pretty much everyone's behalf.
9. Their scientific name comes from this association.
Manatees' scientific name, Sirenia, comes from the word "siren," which many see as a kind of evil mermaid. Manatees seem way too gentle for this name, if you ask us.
10. Manatees eat 10 to 15 percent of their body weight daily.
NOAA translates this to "about three bathtubs full of spinach," meaning it'd be even harder to keep a manatee than the creature from "The Shape of Water." Manatees can grow up to 1,300 pounds!
11. A group of manatees is called an aggregation.
But they really prefer to swim alone or in pairs.