Manatee Cliques

A manatee aggregation or gathering at Three Sisters Springs. The springs, located in Crystal River, Florida, provide manatees with a warm water source that they need for survival in the winter. (Photo © David Schrichte)

Q. What is a group of manatees called? A herd, a pod or something else?
--- Ken Smith, Florida

A. Manatees are not territorial animals. Because they have evolved with few natural enemies, they have not needed the protection or cooperation of a herd. Consequently, they are semi-social, somewhat solitary animals. They sometimes gather in small, informal groups, but they have no leader or real herd structure. Manatee gatherings, called "aggregations," are largely due to common habitat requirements such as warm water, fresh water, or food sources.

During breeding, a single female, or cow, will be followed by a group of a dozen or more males, or bulls, forming what is known as a "mating herd." The term "herd" is also a fairly typical way to refer to a group of manatees.






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A manatee mating herd. (Photo courtesy Irene Apayoglou.)

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