TAXONOMY OF MANATEES

Order: Sirenia

Family: Trichechidae

                        West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus)

                                    Florida subspecies (T. manatus latirostris)

                                    Antillean subspecies (T. manatus manatus)        

                        Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis)

                        West African Manatee (Trichechus seneglaensis)

 

    In North America, the Florida manatee is the most widely known species.  They can be distinguished from the Antillean subspecies (See photo below on left) by examination of certain characteristics of the skull.  (Ripple, 1999 This website will focus on the Florida and Antillean manatees.  In other words, it is rather difficult to determine an Antillean manatee from a Florida manatee at a first glimpse.  Moreover, Antillean manatees, which also live in coastal areas, have lifestyles that are similar to that of the Florida manatee.  They range from the greater Caribbean area to northeastern South America (Ripple 1999).  Since high-quality habitats are patchy in their range, Antillean manatees are rarely evenly distributed throughout it and thus, it is harder to find them so that one may study them.  However, they can still be found in relatively abundant numbers in both Mexico and Belize (Ripple 1999). 

The Antillean vs. the Florida Manatee

Can you tell the difference?

               

                  

(c) Leszek Karczmarski, Sirenian International, Inc.