As manatees move about in the warm water, you may see various parts of their anatomy. These include:
If you hear a rushing noise like that of a snorkeler who's blowing water out of his tube, be sure to scan the water's surface for an odd-shaped ball that suddenly appears. Manatees are mammals and need to breathe air. When they come up to take a breath, you might get a glimpse of their snouts. Look for their nose flaps that open and close to keep water out of their lungs. When resting, the manatee may rise to the surface every 7 to 20 minutes to breathe.
On clear days you might see an oval-shaped object that looks like a large rock with barnacles appear and then disappear. You have just seen the back of a manatee as it was resting near the water's surface.
Watching carefully, you might see a small, gray, paddle-shaped object that waves in the air and splashes. That is the manatee's flipper. It uses its flippers to steer and to hold vegetation as it eats. The bumps near the end of the paddle are actually fingernails left over from when the creature lived on the land millions of year ago.
Look for a vary large fan-shaped paddle that might wave back and forth before it slips back into the water. This is the manatee's tail, which propels it through the water.
As the manatee submerges underneath, the water, it makes a series of half-moon swirls on the water's surface.
Water Management District
Alafia River Basin Board
Hillsborough River Basin Board