Habitat and Location



West Indian Manatees are commonly found in shallow coastal areas, shallow rivers, springs, bays, estuaries, canals and lagoons. 

West Indian Manatees generally require water that is at least one meter in depth.

Within the United States, West Indian manatees are concentrated in Florida in the winter.

But they can be found in summer months as far west as Texas and as far north as Virginia.

Places where the West Indian Manatee can be found.



Summer sightings in Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina are common.

West Indian manatees can also be found in the coastal and inland waterways of Central America and along the northern coast of South America, although distribution in these aresas may be spotty.


They prefer a water temperature of about 68 degrees Fahrenheit. They cannot survive cold weather. When water temperatures drop below 20 degrees Celsius they begin to move towards warmer water.


Some West Indian Manatees make long seasonal migrations south to avoid cold weather temperatures.  Some may make local movements where the temperature of the water is constant such as industrial effluents and natural ground water discharges.

Their role in the environment

Although manatees are herbivores, sometimes sea squirts, mollusks or any of several species of zooplankton can be inadvertenly eaten while the manatee feeds on seagrasses.

Manatees are primary feeders (plant-eaters). They feed directly off of plants. Unlike their land counterparts, manatees have no natural predators.




They have casual or opportunistic associations with little blue herons, Florida caerulea, and symbiotic associations with several fishes.  



West Indian Manatee serve as hosts to numerous endoparasites and several ectoparasites.  The most important causal relationship that manatees have with another species is with Humans. 


Although the manatees are infected with several species of endoparasites these normally do not seriously affect the health of the animals.