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8 things you didn't know about manatees


8 things you didn't know about manatees | PBS NewsHour

8 things you didn't know about manatees | PBS NewsHour

8 things you didn't know about manatees | PBS NewsHour

8 things you didn't know about manatees | PBS NewsHour

Stashed in: Under the sea!, Oh the Hue Manatee!

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2. They use power plant outflows to stay warm

As marine mammals, manatees need a temperate environment to survive through the winter. Despite weighing 1,000 pounds or more, manatees do not have a continuous layer of blubber like whales to stay warm. When aquatic temperatures drop below 68 degrees Fahrenheit, they seek higher temperatures.

In the past, manatees sought out warm water springs. Now, many rely on a more mechanical force for heated water: municipal and private power plants. The plants pump out warm water into surrounding canals or ponds, and up to 60 percent of manatees now spend their winters clustered around power plant outflows, Garrett said.

While power plants have extended the manatees’ range of wintering spots farther north, researchers worry about the impact if those plants go offline. Manatees usually return to the same spot every winter, and could return to an inactive power plant, only to die of cold in unheated waters. Human development has also blocked the entrance to some natural springs, making it difficult for them to reach other warm waters. Garrett said that spring renourishment projects are working to restore the natural flow of water, which would provide manatees wintering sites independent of humans.

So humans making power plants was good for the manatees? Wow. 

Manatees are the pandas of the sea:  numbers dwindling and ever more dependent on the humans who caused their numbers to dwindle in the first place.

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