Did you know that the Florida Everglades is home to more than 300 species of fish, 50 cold-blooded reptile species, and 40 different mammal species? Most people think of alligators, snakes, and even the Florida Panther when thinking about the Florida Everglades. But, the two million-acre wetlands consist of other unique animals such as, the northern yellow bat, the Everglades mink, and the white-tailed deer. With so many different terrains, like sawgrass marshes, mangrove forests and hardwood hammocks, there are a variety of aquatic mammals that call the Everglades home, too.
Graceful Manatees – The Gentle Giants:
Meet the gentle giants of the Everglades–the West Indian Manatees. Manatees have even gained the nickname “sea cow” because of their size and how they “graze.” But these large aquatic mammals are always a favorite and draw you in with their slow movements and gentle nature. Despite their size, West Indian manatees are actually graceful swimmers. They usually cruise at five mph, but in short bursts, manatees can swim up to 15 mph!
Playful River Otters – The Water Acrobats:
Get ready to be charmed by these playful pranksters! The North American River Otters are known as water acrobats and are a delight to watch as they frolic and play in the Everglades' waterways. Their bodies also make them well-adapted for swimming in the water. They have waterproof fur that helps keep them afloat as they navigate the waterways. They are also very social creatures, often living in groups or small communities. Otters are known for their fun behavior, making an otter sighting one of our favorites at Wild Florida.
Dazzling Bottlenose Dolphins – Coastal Companions:
In the coastal regions of the Everglades, you may be in for a surprise with the Bottlenose Dolphins gliding through the waves. As one of the larger aquatic mammals of the Everglades, they can be anywhere from 10 to 14 feet long. They have a streamlined body and a large fin at the top of their back. They can be caught swimming off the coast and in the saltwater of the Everglades. Bottlenose dolphins have strong senses that allow them to communicate in a unique way. This makes them the smartest aquatic animal to live throughout the Everglades.
After learning about these aquatic mammals, one thing becomes clear– these marvelous beings contribute to the beauty of the Everglades. From manatees to dolphins, each species plays a role in maintaining the gentle balance of the Everglades' aquatic habitats.