Communication of Manatees
Manatees are very social animals and they communicate quite often with each other. They communication is very often when a female is caring for her young. However, adults are also seen communicating in various ways with each other. The males seem to be more active in this aspect of things during the mating season. They have an array of sounds that they use, and unfortunately we still don’t know very much about what all of them mean.
Through careful observation and research, it is believed that the manatees use their senses to help them communicate. This includes taste, smell, touch, sight, and listening. Most of this observing has had to take place with the mother and the calf or during mating though as manatee’s tend to be loners. However, researchers have been able to identify sounds that express anger, fear, and even when the female is aroused by a male that is calling to her.
These sounds are emanated from the manatee in a variety of ways. They include whistles, chirps, and squeaks. What may sound like nothing but noises to most people are very important forms of communication for these animals. They young calves are very tuned into the sounds that come from their mother too from the day that they are born.
The ears of the manatee are very large and that allows them to communicate by hearing sounds a long way off. They can also pick up vibrations in the water that can help them stay away from predators. Since they aren’t able to fight them off or to outrun them, they need to be able to keep their distance from the very start.
Observing manatee’s playing with each other as a form of communication is quite entertaining. They engage in a variety of movements including barrel rolling and even body surfing. Both the young and the adult manatees have been seen behaving in such a way. It is believed that this is entertainment purposes only which shows that these animals aren’t serious all the time.
The manatee has proven to be very easy for human’s to train. They are able to teach them to do a variety of different tasks. It is also believed that communicating with them is easy due to the fact that they have the ability to remember things long term like only a few other types of animals are known to.
What is still puzzling is how these sounds are produced by a manatee. They have been carefully watched as they make them. What is perplexing to researchers is that there is no air released as these sounds come up. That leads some to think they are involuntary but others find the manatee to be too intelligent not to have control over how they communicate and what the meaning behind it really is.
Many of the top researchers believe that there is a larynx in the manatee that produces these sounds. It is also believed that they can easily identify each other through the sounds that are made. They are able to remember manatee’s that they have encountered in the past even if it has been a very long time since they had any interaction.
There is still plenty that is unknown though about the communication of manatees. Most experts agree that more needs to be done in this area of research to help understand all the different levels that they use to communicate. The fact that they are alone so much though really does make it harder to observe and to learn about their communication than with other types of animals.