Manatees, also known as sea cows, are large marine mammals that can weigh up to 2000 lbs and measure up to 12’ long. Similarly to whales, their enormous bodies can only be supported in an aquatic environment. On land, their body weight would crush their own internal organs. These animals can live to be 70 years old.
Manatees are the only marine mammals known to be herbivores. To maintain their bodies at a constantly warm temperature, they must daily consume up to 1/10th of their body weight. For the typical sea cow, this means grazing on 50 to 90 lbs of lettuce daily.
Manatees can be found in shallow freshwaters with abundant aquatic vegetation, less than 16 feet deep, or saline waters near the confluence of rivers, lakes or coastal areas with tranquil waters (i.e. bays, inlets). Watching manatees swim is similar to beholding a slow-motion, underwater ballet, while they twist and turn silently in their watery world.
Three manatees, weighing a combined total of nearly a ton, arrived on recently to Xel-Ha Nature Reserve, which will be their new home. Xel-Ha is an eco park that will be an extraordinarily beautiful place to display their these enormous creatures where visitors can learn to appreciate the way they co-exist with nature.
The manatees’ names are Bu’ul who is the youngest, a male 8 months old who weighs around 220 lbs. His name means “bean” in Mayan. Bu’ul’s mother Pompom is thirteen years old and weighs around 1,100 lbs. Baxal is the female, and adolescent whose name means “toy” in Mayan. She weighs almost 650 lbs.
Early one morning last week, a group of specialists from the Via Delphi Institute undertook the complicated task of transporting the creatures from the eco-archaeological park Xcaret. Transfer permits had to be issued first from from the SEMARNAT’s Wildlife CEO. Once in Xel-Ha, the manatees were relocated to the Kay-Op Inlet (which takes its name after the parrot fish), where they will enjoy more room for their well-being and development.
The manatee is an endangered species due to unrestricted hunting and also due to the deterioration of its habitat. In Xel-Ha a special program has been specifically established for the manatee’s care and protection according to the company’s policy of natural preservation.