Manatee Invasion!

ENVIRONMENT

A Florida park had to close a freshwater spring to swimming and kayaking when over 300 manatees rapidly moved into the area at an unexpected rate. (USA Today)

Learn a little about Florida’s manatees with our media spotlight.

Teachers, scroll down for a quick list of key resources in our Teachers’ Toolkit.

A manatee calf surfaces to breathe next to her protective mother in Three Sisters Springs, part of Crystal River Springs Preserve, Florida. The springs usually enjoy a steady rate of about 65 "sea cows" a day. But earlier this week, more than 300 manatees crowded the inlet of the Crystal River, shutting down popular tourist attractions such as swimming and snorkeling. Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

A manatee calf surfaces to breathe next to her protective mother in Three Sisters Springs, part of Crystal River Springs Preserve, Florida. The springs usually enjoy a steady rate of about 65 “sea cows” a day. But earlier this week, more than 300 manatees crowded the inlet of the Crystal River, shutting down popular tourist attractions such as swimming and snorkeling.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Discussion Ideas

This map shows manatee habitats, migration patterns, congregation sites, and leading causes of manatee deaths in Florida. Map by Jerome Cookson, National Geographic

This map shows manatee habitats, migration patterns, congregation sites, and leading causes of manatee deaths in Florida.
Map by Jerome Cookson, National Geographic

  • Read through the short USA Today article and look at the map above. Why do you think manatees migrate to Florida’s rivers and springs every winter?
    • Florida manatees thrive in warm, shallow water. They migrate to warm springs and rivers during the winter.

 

Map by National Geographic Education

Map by National Geographic Education

  • Three Sisters Springs is part of the Crystal River ecosystem. Take a look at Crystal River on today’s MapMaker Interactive map. What large body of water do you think the manatees migrate to and from when they’re not congregating at the spring? Use the zoom feature (+/-) for some help.
    • Manatees probably migrate around the shallow estuaries of the Crystal and Salt Rivers along the Gulf of Mexico.

 

Solitary by nature, manatees are forced into sociability on winter days. Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Solitary by nature, manatees are forced into sociability on winter days.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

  • Why do naturalists think Three Sisters Springs experienced such manatee traffic?
    • According to Laura Ruettiman, an environmental education guide, “The high numbers may be a result of greater protection in the area and because habitat areas in other parts of the state are being lost.”

 

Pucker up! A manatee in Three Sisters Springs, Florida, shows off its prehensile lips—each side can move independently. The strong, independent muscles of the manatee's lips help it tear apart aquatic plants. Or deliver very intense kisses. Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

Pucker up! A manatee in Three Sisters Springs, Florida, shows off its prehensile lips—each side can move independently. The strong, independent muscles of the manatee’s lips help it tear apart aquatic plants. Or deliver very intense kisses.
Photograph by Paul Nicklen, National Geographic

 

TEACHERS’ TOOLKIT

USA Today: Over 300 manatees close down Three Sisters Springs

Nat Geo: Florida Manatee—How now, sea cow?

Nat Geo: Sea Cows in the Crystal River (map)

Nat Geo: The Mermaid Myth

3 responses to “Manatee Invasion!

  1. Pingback: Openess | ruminatorsite·

  2. Pingback: What Did You Read in 2015? | Nat Geo Education Blog·

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s