Sizewise: Females vs. Males
Photo © David R. Schrichte

Q. I have heard that adult female manatees are larger than adult males. Is this true and, if so, is it known why?

A. It is true that adult female manatees tend to be larger than males. They can be longer and also greater in weight. This extra body size and mass may assist in supporting a fetus through gestation. The time that females are most evidently larger than males is during pregnancy. It is possible that there is some advantage during breeding for females to be larger, such as making it easier for them to control access sought by multiple male suitors in a mating herd.

--Katie Tripp, Ph.D.
Director of Science and Conservation, Save the Manatee Club

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