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Manatees, Family Trichechidae, pictures, stock photos, images

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The Order Sirenia refers to manatees, dugongs and Steller's sea cow. While similar in many ways, these Sirenian cousins can be separated into two families, the manatees (family Trichechidae) and the dugongs and Steller's sea cow (family Dugongidae). This fact sheet discusses the characteristics of the family Trichechidae and how they differ from Dugongidae.

The family Trichechidae is made up of three species, the Amazonian manatee, the West African manatee, and the West Indian manatees. The West Indian manatee has two subspecies, the Florida subspecies and the Antillean subspecies.

All members of Trichechidae are in the same family, and they are mainly distinguished by their respective ranges, as indicated by their names. West African manatees are native to the warm water coasts and rivers of West Africa, Amazonian manatees live in the Amazon River basin, and West Indian manatees live in the Gulf of Mexico, from the northern coast of South America (Antillean subspecies) to the southeastern coast of North America (Florida subspecies).

While the ranges of the three species of Trichechidae do not generally overlap, neither does the range of Dugongidae overlap with Trichechidae. The range of Trichechidae is Atlantic, Caribbean and the Amazon, while the range of Dugongidae is Indo-Pacific.

Trichechidae differ from Dungongidae in that their tails are rounded, like a paddle, rather than fluked like a whale's. They have vestigial nails on their front flippers, which Dugongidae lack. The upper lip of Trichechidae is more deeply split than that of Dugongidae.

For specific information about manatees, please refer to their individual species fact sheets, linked below.

Amazonian Manatees
Trichechus inunguis

Amazonian Manatee image

Amazonian Manatees, Trichechus inunguis, showing the white ventral markings, unique to this species of manatee, INPA/LMA, Amazonas, Brazil.

Picture #: 002699

West African Manatees
Trichechus senegalensis

West African Manatee image

West African Manatee, Trichechus senegalensis, feeding on lettuce, critically endangered species.

Picture #: 015636

West Indian Manatees
Trichechus manatus

Children Observing Florida Manatee

Children observe Florida manatee, Trichechus manatus latirostris, at Homosassa Spring State Wildlife Park, Florida.

Picture #: 002688

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Subphylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Sirenia

Family: Trichechidae

- Manatee (Trichechidae) information assembled from on-line sources by Kevin Miller on Sept. 25, 2007 for



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