Sarasota Manatees

C Fi 9972

The Florida Manatee, or Sea Cow, is one of us - a mammal. After a gestation period of about a year, the calf emerges with the agility to swim, seek air at the surface and feed on milk underwater at the base of momma's fin nibbling on grasses within a couple weeks. Calves vocalize at or soon after birth. This auditory form of communication is an important part of the mother-calf bonding process. Weaning by and large after a year, a calf may occasionally feed this way for almost two years, while learning learning about feeding and resting areas, travel routes, and warm water refuges.

In five years the baby manatee will be able to reproduce as they mature to 40 years old. Manatees are herbivores. At sea, they tend to prefer sea grasses. When they live in rivers, they consume freshwater vegetation. Manatees also eat algae. A manatee can eat a tenth of its own weight in 24 hours. That can equal up to 130 lbs.

Manatees have only six neck vertebrae. Most other mammals, including giraffes, have seven. As a result, manatees cannot turn their heads sideways, and must turn their whole body around to look behind them.

Manatees don't always need to breathe. As they swim, they poke their nose up above the water's surface to catch a few breaths every few minutes. If they are simply resting, they can stay under the water for 15 minutes without taking a breath.

It's easy to imagine that manatees and elephants share some ancestry. Indeed, both manatees and elephants have tough skin, bristle-like hair covering their entire body, teeth that are continuously being replaced and “toe” nails on each forelimb.

Manatees might not look like mermaids to us, but many years ago sailors mistook manatees for legendary mermaids. Christopher Columbus was the first person to record the sighting of a manatee in the new world and was surprised at the not-so-beautiful "mermaid". Part of the manatee legend remains in the name of their animal order, Sirenia, which comes from the Greek mythical legend of sirens who sang songs to lure ships into rocky shores.

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Annie Crouch

Annie is a student at Ringling College of Art and Design. She has experience with both private and public murals, and specializes in organic scenes and vivid colors.

"As a member of the Sarasota community, I was excited to be a part of such an amazing public art event. I enjoyed researching and exhibiting parts of Sarasota history through my passion, while also sharing it with others. In addition, it was extremely inspiring to be working with such skilled and experienced artists as part of a united project."

I painted:
-A flyer from the Sarasota French Film Festival
-A night blooming cactus flower from the Marie Selby Gardens
-A mermaid with a “minimum wake” warning
-The seahorse statue from the Lido Beach Casino
-A historic photo taken of local orange farmers
-Different shark teeth found in Venice,FL