One of the gentlest creatures in the sea, the slow-moving manatee is one of Xcalak’s most at-risk underwater creatures. A big, slow-moving, marine mammal with a wrinkly face, flippers, and a paddle-shaped tail, it’s easy to see why another name for the manatee is the “sea cow”.
Manatees gather in the warm, Caribbean waters off the coast of Xcalak where they enjoy drifting with the gentle waves and munching on the sea grass that makes up most of their diet.
Eager to spot a manatee in the its natural habitat? You might just spot a wild manatee or two while scuba diving or snorkeling in Xcalak. Here are a few facts you might not know about these big, beautiful animals.
It might be tough to tell with all that green algae, but a manatee’s skin is grey. Because manatees like swimming in shallow water and algae likes sunlight, you’ll often see manatees covered in a slimy, green algae back-blanket.
They’re good at holding their breath
Manatees are mammals which means they need to come to the surface to breathe – but they sure don’t need to do it as frequently as humans. If a manatee’s not moving around it can hold its breath for up to 20 minutes. Think about that when you’re sucking away on your scuba regulator.
They’re warm water wussies
Despite looking like they’re wrapped up in a layer of insulating blubber, manatees are quite sensitive to water temperature. Manatees have a low metabolism and there actually isn’t that much blubber on their bodies meaning they can die if they’re in water that’s too cold.
Manatees don’t need to be part of a big group to be happy. You’ll often find manatees in the waters around Xcalak by themselves or in pairs. About six individuals is considered a large group (a group of manatees is called an “aggregation”). Manatees seem to be perfectly happy drifting around, munching on sea grass all by themselves. That is, until mating season arrives…
At least, they’ve been mistaken for mermaids. Imagine you’re a sailor who’s been at sea for a few months – you catch a glimpse of a graceful creature with a tail and your imagination turn it into a pretty lady. Hundreds of years ago, Christopher Columbus was one of the first people to record a manatee sighting in North America (he wasn’t impressed with the beauty of the “mermaid” he spotted).
Their biggest threat is humans
They have no natural predators, and manatees in Xcalak live in protected waters, safe from one of their biggest dangers – humans. Despite their excellent hearing many manatees die each year from collisions with motorboats because they can’t move out of the way quick enough.
To get up close and personal with these gentle giants in Xcalak, sign up for a scuba diving or snorkeling excursion, or a boat tour. Ask your accommodation to help you make arrangements.
Looking for accommodation in Xcalak? Then this is the post for you!