Manatee Pictures: Sea Cow Or Siren?

Diver and manatee.Man snorkeling with a manatee.

Relax and color some manatee pictures.  Get to know the whimsical, mellow creature that few of us ever get to see.

The beautiful, blubbery beast that spends half its day sleeping and the other half eating!  Oh, we humans should be so lucky!

Ponder the pictures of this docile dweller of the ocean shallows.  Is it a sea cow or a siren? 

Both actually (more on that later).

Appreciate them while you can. They're endangered. 

So are their relatives, the dugong.  Sadly, it's too late for the Steller's sea cow (or is it?) extinct since the 1700's?

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Sirens or Cows?

That's a complicated question.

The manatee, dugong and the extinct Steller are members of the order Sirenia aka sirens.

You know, as in mermaids.  Those luscious ladies that lured sailors onto the rocks. 

Hard to believe that some desperate, not to mention blind, sailor would be attracted to a dugong.  But that's how the story goes.

They're also called sea cows.  Why? Because these guys graze on grasses like their four-legged land dwelling namesakes.  Plus they provide hides and meat, too.

But they're actually related to the elephant not the cow (nor the mermaid ;/ ). 

Manatee warning sign.

Manatee Pictures: Masticating Mostly

You may notice a recurring theme.  My search for the subject of this page turned up mainly photos of the mammal masticating.

Well, they do have to work to maintain their elephantine figures.  An adult eats about 100 pounds of plants per day!  That requires many hours of munching.

So they're often seen using their flippers to shovel food into their faces.  Or to sift through the sediment for tasty morsels.

Like this pair...

Manatees eating.
Manatees looking for lunch.

These guys are searching through the sand for food.  Or grazing a nice bed of sea grass or whatever you choose to make it.

Manatees are not the pickiest of eaters.  They'll nosh on more than 65 different aquatic plants.

Manatee with calf.

This youngster is grabbing a snack on the go!  Mom looks like she's ready to refuel.

Manatee coloring page.

Here's a single cow posing for a passing diver.  You'll notice she's not bothered by his presence.  While he's gazing, she's grazing.

Manatee feeding.
Colored drawing of a manatee.Manatee feeding from a crab trap buoy line.

This guy is playing a dangerous game with that crab trap line.  That easy meal may just cost him his life.

Unfortunately, some manatees get tangled in those lines and drown.  They have to catch their breath several times per hour or they perish.

Manatee munching on a piling.

She's munching on the things growing on a large piling.  Yummy?!?!  She seems to think so.

Kissing Manatees???

Are these two sea cows kissing?  That was my first impression.  What's yours?

Two manatees.

My First Pic of a Manatee!!!

Manatee mailbox.

I was driving down by the beach the other day when I spotted my first manatee!

Unfortunately, it wasn't real but I was real excited.  So I took this picture to share with you.

She may not be real but she's still real handy.  Who wouldn't want a manatee mailbox?  Cute isn't it?

I sure do!  But we have community mailboxes in my neighborhood.  :( 

I'm hoping next time I can take a picture of the real animal.  They have been spotted in the vicinity!

For now I'll just have to settle for this manatee coloring page.  Join me?

Manatee mailbox coloring page.
My manatee mailbox coloring page tinted to resemble the photo from which it was derived.

Manatee Pictures: Sirens Swimming

The majestic members of the Sirenia group swimming.  They're probably traveling to another favorite dining spot!

Drawing of swimming manatee.
Colored in swimming manatee picture.

Here's a picture of a manatee swimming along the bottom with her own school of fish.  She makes a great place to hide.  Plus her fish friends probably dine on her crumbs.

Three manatee swimming.

Three manatee meandering.   Well, maybe just two don't know what to do.  Number three seems to have his eye on a snack.

Perhaps this manatee thinks he can make a snack outta that rope?   These benign beasts spend about 7 hours a day eating more than 100 pounds of food.  So everything must be checked out!

Nosey manatee.

Dugong: Manatee Relative

Dugong are members of the same family of aquatic mammals as the manatee.  Take a peek at the drawing below.  You can see how similar they look.

But... did you notice the one glaring difference?  Oh, good for you!  You saw that the dugong's  tale is shaped more like a whale's tale.

This dugong family looks like it's on a mission.

Two dugongs.
Momma dugong and calf picture colored.

Where do you think this momma dugong is taking her calf?  Somewhere safer or somewhere to eat? 

Extinct Sea Cow?

This poor lady is/was a Steller's sea cow another member of the family

Stellers sea cow.
Steller sea cow drawing colored in.

Steller, a naturalist, actually examined a dead female specimen.  This drawing was probably made from observing her.

Sadly, these sea cows became extinct not long after this drawing was made.  They were too slow and tame.  Easy prey for hunters who finished them off.

There have been alleged sightings of these cows lately.  But as you can see from this video...

the evidence is not very compelling! 

It would be nice to rediscover them.  But it's not likely. :(

Where Can You See Manatees or Dugongs?

Manatee map habitat.Manatee distribution. Source:Wikimedia

Manatees hang around in the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, the Amazon and West Africa.

Where can you go to see them?

  • Florida-5 places to see them in their natural habitat
  • Texas, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Louisiana-sightings
  • Puerto Rico
  • Aquariums in Miami Florida and Columbus Ohio
  • Zoos in England, France, Germany, Italy and Singapore

Dugongs are native to the shallows around the western Pacific and east coast of Africa.

Where can you see a one?  You'll probably need to travel to...

Where Can You Swim with Manatees in the U.S.?

You can pay to snorkel with manatees at the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge in Florida, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission website

Please make sure to obey the law, if you go see or swim with manatees.  The FFWCC site warns...

To avoid charges of harassment, DO NOT:

  • give food to manatees
  • use water to attract manatees to your boat, dock, or marina (etc.) where manatees may be harmed
  • separate a cow and her calf
  • disturb manatee mating herds
  • pursue manatees or chase them from warm water sites
  • disturb resting manatees
  • hit, injure, or harm manatees
  • jump on, stand on, hold on to, or ride manatees
  • grab or kick manatees
  • block a manatee's path if one or more moves toward you
  • hunt or kill manatees
  • use your vessel to pursue or harass manatees
  • "fish" for or attempt to hook or catch manatees

These docile creatures are protected by many laws so please tread carefully.  Respect them so we don't lose them!

Lucky Manatee

She was lucky this time!  This manatee, like many, had an unfortunate encounter with a propeller.

Manatee boat encounters don't always end well.  Sometimes the wounds are fatal.

Boaters please keep an eye out.

Manatee Facts

   Soooo... you like manatees.  But how much do you know about them? Have you ever wondered...

  Do manatees have teeth?  Yes,  and they are always being replaced due to wear.

  Do they have ears?  Yes

  Do they have blow holes?  No

  Do they have hair?  Yes, but not a lot.

  Do they have natural predators?  Yes, crocodiles sometimes eat their babies.

  Do they have knees or gills?  Nope and nope!

Thanks for Stopping by Manatee Pictures!

Bowing manatee.

Hope you enjoyed your encounter today.  Thanks for stopping by manatee pictures.

Now don't forget to take home an adult coloring page featuring your favorite manatee!

Manatee license plate.

Before You Go...

Inquiring Manatees Want to Know...

It's sad that we've lost the Steller's sea cow.  Hopefully, we can hold on to the rest of her family!  Such gentle, interesting and cute creatures need their space too.

Facts: Wikipedia

Most coloring pages were derived from photos found on Wikimedia

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B. Wineland wrote this article, and used GPT-4, OpenAI’s large-scale language-generation model, as a research assistant to develop source material. The author wrote the final draft in its entirety and takes ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.

Coloring pages on this site are created from my own photographs, Wikimedia Public Domain,,,, Midjourney or Dall.e art generator.