Breeding & Reproduction

Manatees do not form permanent pair bonds. During breeding, a single female, or cow, will be followed by a group of a dozen or more males, or bulls, forming a mating group. They appear to breed at random during this time. Although breeding and birth may occur at any time during the year, there appears to be a slight spring calving peak. Manatees usually bear one calf although twins have been recorded. Intervals between births range from three to five years. The manatee was officially declared endangered in 1973 as part of the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Quick Facts

  • Gestational Period: 12 to 14 months
  • Age of Maturity: 5 years
  • Calf Dependency: up to 2 years
  • Life Expectancy: 60 years (estimated)
  • Estimated Population: 2,000 to 2,400 (estimated)
  • Offspring: One calf per birth (twins have been reported)