Manatee Social Behavior
Since the manatee usually lives alone, they don’t have too much of a social structure for us to learn about. However, we do know that the males are quite aggressive when it comes to mating. We also know that the females take very good care of their young. They often nurse them up to 18 months which is a long time for mammals of this nature.
The manatee though is a very gentle creature by nature. They don’t tend to bother each other when they are in the same general areas. They aren’t extremely territorial as long as there is plenty of food available. They are very intelligent and they can use all of their five senses for communicating with each other when they want to. It is absolutely amazing to see them doing so.
The social structure of the manatee when it comes to migration is still quite puzzling. It is believed it is due to the cooling of the waters that they move along as they do. There doesn’t seem to be a leader or followers though. They move along in the process with grace and there doesn’t seem to be any tension in the group. From time to time they may prod each other but this is often seen as a sign of encouragement rather than aggression.
The social structure of them can be interesting when the manatees are stressed though. There is evidence that they are caring as well as highly intelligent. They even attempt to help each other when there are difficult situations such as a lack of food or when one is injured. Such signs of compassion are just one more reason that experts agree that the manatee is more developed than any other marine mammal in the world.
From time to time when manatees do form groups, they are very small in size. They also don’t end up with any type of hierarchy that has been observed among the group members. These groups may be for convenience and then end after a short period of time. There is no evidence of long term groups though that have been identified with these animals.
The mothers and the calves do form very strong bonds that are fascinating. When you observe them you will notice that they touch very often. This seems to be very important to the social development of the manatee’s young. Those that are raised in captivity lack this if their mother was killed and it can result in them not eating well or not thriving like they should. It isn’t quite known what type of social benefits they really get from touching. However, it is known that this is a vital part of the development process for them.
One fun aspect of their social structure is the fact that the manatee does engage in games and playing when they are with others. This is very common between the calves and the mothers. However, adults are known to play follow the leader and other similar games to pass the time and to interact with each other.
One of the main reasons why there isn’t much known though about social interactions with manatees is that they don’t engage in it often. Manatees rest throughout the day and night for shorter periods of time. That only leaves them 4 hours a day for traveling and for playing. The playful interactions due seem to be more frequent when the population isn’t stressed out there. When they feel safe in their environment and there is plenty of food they are more likely to show their playful side instead of focusing on their instincts of survival.