Manatee Research Paper

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Manatees and dugongs are well-known marine mammals of the Order Sirenia that belong to a larger group known as the “subungulates,” which include elephants, hyraxes, and aardvarks (Powell, 2002). There are two extant families in the Order Sirenia, and they are Family Trichechidae (manatees) and Family Dugongidae (dugongs). In the Family Trichechidae, there are three species of manatee, and they include the West Indian manatee, the Amazonian manatee, and the West African manatee. In the Family Dugongidae, there is one species of dugong, simply known as the dugong. The most recently member of this family to have gone extinct is the Steller’s Sea Cow, and it was hunted to extinction in the 18th century. Although these animals are slow compared…show more content…
Manatees have a large, rounded tail that aids in movement through the water, and dugongs have a V-shaped tail. Additionally, all Sirenians have two nares positioned on the top of their muzzle that stay open above water and closed when submerged. Sirenians are also adapted to be herbivorous animals (Powell, 2002). Their lips and vibrissae aid in finding and feeding on vegetation, commonly sea grasses. Manatees have molars that are constantly being replaced, and mature dugongs have one pair of molars that continuously grow. These animals live in tropical waters, manatees preferring fresh or brackish water and dugongs preferring a purely marine environment. In recent years, there has been a decline in or an extirpation of several populations of Sirenians (Powell, 2002). This is mainly due to human influence and activities such as commercial fishing, boat collisions, and hunting. Research scientists and activists are always looking for new ways to protect and conserve this distinctive group of…show more content…
Sirens and mermaids are closely related to each other in the sea-faring folklore of several cultures because they are both depicted as beautiful and seductive half-women that lure sailors to their deaths (History). Mermaids specifically are described as being half-woman and half-fish, living in the ocean, and having the ability to transform into a human and seduce men. For as long as there has been ocean exploration, there have been countless sightings of mermaids. Christopher Columbus, the famous explorer, reported seeing three mermaids and described them as “not half as beautiful as they are painted” (History). While this seems farfetched, scientists and historians believe there is a reasonable explanation for the myriad of stories about these mythological creatures. For the most part it is accepted that mermaid folklore and sightings can be attributed to actual Sirenians (manatees and dugongs). These animals possess several features that would have made it possible to mistake them for a mermaid. They are described as having “a flat tail and two flippers that resemble stubby arms” (Radford, 2014) and “human-like eyes” (History). In addition, female manatees have "prominent nipples [that] make it a likely progenitor of the mermaid myth” (Smith, 2005). Although Sirenians do not look like the

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