Kayaking with manatees on the Gulf coast

Seeing manatees from your kayak is one of the most exotic experiences in Florida waters.  Once upon a time, sailors mistook these gentle animals - also known as sea cows - for mermaids. Living mainly in warm waters of the Caribbean and Florida, these mammals can achieve a weight of between 400 and 550 kilograms (about 880 to 1,210 lbs) and adult lengths of 2.8 to 3.0 meters long (nine to ten feet), with some individuals reaching 1,775 kilograms and 4.6 meters). Females tend to develop larger than males. Plant-earting manatees spend most of their lives resting and feeding, with a diet including turtle grass, algae, hydrilla, and up to 60 kinds of plants.

At present, many regions of the world have enacted laws to protect manatees, whose decline is due, as is that of many species, to humans - both because of development and run-ins with motorized watercraft.

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