Manatee FAQ: Related Sirenians

Q. The Florida manatee is a subspecies of the West Indian manatee. What is the difference between the two, to classify them as a subspecies? (Click link to get answer)

Are the manatees in Belize the same species found in Florida? What are the other different types of manatee species around the world? (Click link to get answer)

Q. How did the Steller’s sea cow get its name?
Steller's sea cow is named after the naturalist Georg Wilhelm Steller. Steller spent the winter of 1741 on Bering Island with other survivors of the wreck of the Russian ship, the "Saint Peter." While there, he busied himself by collecting and recording detailed observations of the plants, animals and minerals he found on the island. His notes, together with the studies of bones found on Bering and Copper Island, comprise the majority of information regarding the Steller's sea cow. Sadly, Steller and his crew were also pretty much responsible for the extinction of the Steller’s sea cow. Because the animals were slow and stayed in relatively shallow water, they were easy to hunt for food. The survivors of the Saint Peter told stories of the sea cows on Bering Island after their return to Russia, and the Steller's sea cow was hunted to extinction within 27 years of its discovery.

Q. Have a manatee and dugong ever been kept in captivity together? If so, could they tolerate each other and is there any chance of "hybridization"?
As far as we know, no manatee and dugong have ever been kept in captivity together. We don't even know of dugongs in captivity in the U.S. or Europe. However, if a manatee and dugong were kept in captivity together, it is likely they would tolerate each other just fine. Male dugongs are a bit territorial, but even at that they could probably share a tank with manatees. In fact, even though they are not the same species, there is a possiblity that they could interbreed, which would not be a good idea. Their offspring would be sterile, or they would die before they reached sexual maturity.

Q. How long have manatees been around?
(Click the link above to get the answer

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