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Definition: manatee or manati from The Chambers Dictionary

a large aquatic herbivorous mammal (Manatus or Trichechus) of the warm parts of the Atlantic and the rivers of Brazil. [Sp manatí, from Carib manatoui; not connected with L’manus hand]


Summary Article: manatee from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

Any of a group of plant-eating aquatic mammals found in marine bays and sluggish rivers, usually in thick, muddy water. They have flippers as forelimbs, no hindlimbs, and a short rounded and flattened tail used for swimming. The marine manatees can grow up to about 4.5 m/15 ft long and weigh up to 600 kg/1,323 lb. (Genus Trichechus, family Trichechidae, order Sirenia.)

All three species of manatee are in danger of becoming extinct as a result of pollution and because they are hunted for food. They are the Amazonian manatee (T. Inunguis), found in the River Amazon; the African manatee (T. Senegalensis), which lives in the rivers and coastal areas of West Africa; and the West Indian manatee (T. manatus), which lives in the Caribbean Sea and along the east coasts of tropical North and South America. Only about 2,400 West Indian manatees remain in the main population around Florida; more than 200 died in 1996, poisoned by an algal toxin.

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