Would You Like Salt with Your Water?

Manatee photo by David R. Schrichte

Photo © David R. Schrichte

Q. Do manatees drink salt water?
--Ann Hemme, Florida

A. Although manatees are found in fresh, brackish, or salt water, they don't drink salt water. Research suggests that manatees in salt water can go without drinking fresh water for extended periods. On average, they must return to fresh water every one to two weeks to drink. Their intake of water occurs while eating aquatic plants as well as actively drinking. This may explain why manatees can go so easily from freshwater to marine environments. It also means that people do not need to give manatees water from hoses. Manatees can take care of their own fresh water needs.

--Dr. Katie Tripp
Director of Science and Conservation
Save the Manatee Club

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