Photo © David R. Schrichte

Q. How long do manatees sleep?
--Rhonda Martin, Florida

A. Manatees sleep differently than humans do. We rest for a long period (usually at night), but manatees will rest throughout the day and night for shorter periods. They may rest submerged at the bottom or just below the surface of the water, coming up to breathe an average of every three to five minutes. Intervals between breaths depend on activity level, and when manatees are using a great deal of energy, they may surface to breathe as often as every 30 seconds. But when resting, manatees have been known to stay submerged for up to 20 minutes. Scientists believe that manatees resting on the bottom may surface to breathe without fully waking up. Isn't that interesting? This behavior is sort of like sleepwalking!

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