Amazonian Manatee, Trichechus inunguis

The Amazonian manatee (Trichechus inunguis) is a species that can be found in the Amazon Basin, in a range that extends through Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia, Guyana, and Venezuela. It resides in freshwater habitats within these areas. This species is thought to reach a body length of 9.2 feet and females can weigh between 790 and 1,200 pounds, typically growing larger than males. It is grey in color, but can appear to be brown, and it has thick, wrinkled skin that holds little hair. Hair does occur on a white patch on its chest and it holds whiskers on its snout.

The Amazonian manatee is the only member of the Sirenia order that resides exclusively in freshwater habitats. Like other manatees, this species relies on peripheral circulation to regulate its body temperatures by deflecting blood flow to areas of the body that are exposed to water, as well as fat that helps keep warmth in. Manatees will produce new molar teeth when old teeth rot or ware out, replacing teeth in the front and back of the mouth.

Like the Florida manatee, the Amazonian manatee is able to communicate with other individuals and has even been recorded making noises while alone. This species breeds seasonally and gives birth after twelve to fourteen months of pregnancy. Its main threats include hunting, a high calf mortality rate, and habitat loss. It is thought that it could become extinct within ten to fifteen years, but population estimates are hard to gauge due to the murky waters in which it resides. The Amazonian manatee appears on the IUCN Red List with a conservation status of “Vulnerable.”

Image Caption: Picture of a baby Trichechus inunguis in Instituto Brasileiro de Meio Ambiente e Recursos Naturais Renováveis (IBAMA) in Breves – Pará State – Marajó Island – Brazil. Credit: KCO3/Wikipedia