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can only be decided by the investigations of philologists more learned and more zealous than

DIFFERENT NAMES OF THE MANATEE. Other names for the Manatee occur, most of which
define, as it were, the characteristics of the animal. Such are "Pegebuey," a native Amazonian
name, employed by Acufia in 1641, and its translations: "Ox Fish," as written by Sloane in his
natural history of Jamaica, in 1725, and "Poisson breuf," as given by Condamine, in 1667, in his
history of the Antilles. The French name, "Vache marin," and the corresponding English word,
< Sea-cow," occur in numerous instances in scientific literature. In Guiana the natives use the
name "Cojumero" (Gray). Bellin (1763) alludes to "Lamenum." The term "Petit Lamentin du
nord," used by French writers to distinguish the South American Manatee from the Floridau
species, is, I believe, of later origin.

'BUKMEISTEK: DesTiption physique. R<$pnl>. Argentine, iii, part i, 187!), p. 530.

"FLEMING: British Animals, p. 30. QUAY: Cat. Seals and Whales, Brit. Museum, 1866, p. 359.

3 LEIDY, in Prnc. Aeod. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, viii, 1856, p. 165.

* LEIDY, in Kept. U. 8. Geological Survey, 4, i, 1873, p. 376, pi. xxxvii, figs. 16, 17.

Oceani Doc. Hispali, 1500, fol., libr. 8, fide Brandt.

"OviKDO: Hist, general de las I m lias, 1535, lib. xii, c. 10.

7 EXCJCKMELIX: Buccaneers of America, English translation, 1684, p. 82.

"OUMILLA: El Orinoco Illustrado, 1741.


SIZE OF TIIK Kl.OHIDA M \\.\ I I.K. III treating if (lie si/c of the Amciicall Manatees, it will
be necessary to consider tin- two species separately, although tlic adults seein to attain nearly
equal proportions. Harlan gives, as the maximum length of the Florida Man, itee, eight or ten fuel,
but these ineasureiiieiits weie not made liy hiiiiseli'. 1 Mr. VV. A. Coiikliii, director of the Central
Park menagerie, in New York City, gives the following dimensions of a specimen kept alive in that
establishment in 1ST.'!: "The following are its absolute dimensions: length, feet 9i inches; cir-
cumference around the body, 4 feet 9 inches; length of flipper, 1 foot; width of same, 4jj inches;
width of tail joining body, 1 foot OJ inches; greatest width of tad, 1 foot 84 inches; weight, 450
pounds." *

I am not aware that any other -measurements of the Florida Manatee, under its pro|>er name,
are on record.

Manatee has been differently estimated by different observers. "This Creature," says Dampier,
"is about the bigness of a Horse, and 10 or 12 foot long. ... I have heard that some have
weighed above 1200 L. but I never saw any so large." 3

Stedman, alluding to a Manatee which floated past his encampment on the river Cottica, in
Surinam, says: "This Manatee was exactly sixteen feet long, almost shapeless, being an enormous
lump of fat, tapered back to a fleshy, broad, horizontal tail " 4

Smyth and Lowe captured a Manatee in 1835 in Peru, at their encampment at Sarayacu, on
the Ucayali. "We had one opportunity," they relate, "while at this place, of examining a taca
marina, or manatee, that was just caught; but, not being anatomists, are unable to give a scientific
account of it. The animal was seven feet eight inches long from the snout to the tip of the
tail. . . . This was not considered a large one. . . . When the animal was killed, it
took the united strength of at least forty men to drag it up from the water to the town, which they
effected by means of our ropes." 5

In 1872 Dr. Murie published a valuable memoir on the South American Manatee, in which he
gives measurements of two specimens which reached London in 18GO, fresh but not alive. The
length of one, a young male, from the Maroui River, in Surinam, was forty eight inches or four
feet; that of the second specimen, a young female, from Porto Rico, sixty-live inches, or five feet
tive inches. In his remarks on these animals, Dr. Murie says: "When studying in the Stuttgart
Museum, I derived much information from Professor Krauss, the nble director. Among other
things he mentioned that their large stuffed specimen of Manatee was the mother of our Society's
young male, as attested by Herr Koppler, of Surinam, who transmitted it. The length of the female
mounted skin I ascertained to be 122 inches [ten feet two inches], therefore twice and a hall tin-
length of the young animal possibly six or eight months old. Another slutted male s|M-ciinen ut
Stuttgart measures 94 inches. Both of the above are doubtless stretched to their fullest extent;
still, one is justified in assuming the adult Manatux to be from 9 to 10 feet long."" Of the weight
of the s|>ecimens he remarks: "According to Mr. Greey, the entire carcass of the Zoological
Society's female, when weighed immediately after death on board ship, was 228 Ibs. That of the
young male as ascertained by myself was 01 Ibs." 4

HAIM.AN: Fuuua Americana, 18>, |. 277.

'CONKLIN: The Manatee at Ontrnl Park, in " Forest mid Stream." i, 1874, p. 166.
'DAMIMKR: A New Voyage round the World, i, ITo.:. ]>]>. :I3,34.
*STKDMAX: Narrative of an expedition to Surinam, ii. K'.iii, p. IT.'i.
'SMYTH nnd LOWK: Journey from Lima to Para. London, I85(i, p. 197.

MuitlK: On the form and structure of the Manatee. Transaction* Zixilogiral Society of Ixmdon. viii, 1873, pp.


Another specimen, a female, received by the same society from Surinam, measured eighty
inches, but no indication of its age is given. 1 Still another specimen, this time a male, arrived
in London. When dead, measurements showed its length to be ninety-four and five-tenths inches
or seven feet ten and one-half inches. 2

Of two male Surinam specimens which died in the Zoological Gardens at Philadelphia, one
measured exactly six feet from snout to tip of tail, the other six and a half feet. 3

General Thomas Jordan, writing in "Forest and Stream," in 1873, says: "Three of these huge
mammals I saw on Indian Kiver, in 1849-'oO, each weighing at least fifteen hundred pounds, and
between fifteen and twenty feet in length." He adds: "The Florida species (T. latirostris) are
much larger than those found in the Antilles, South America, or- Africa." 4 This last statement can
scarcely be strictly correct. Other writers, as we have seen, have found quite as large specimens
as those here referred to in South America.

BREEDING HABITS OF MANATEES. In relation to the breeding of Manatees, and the size and
habits of the young, almost nothing is known. Ogilby, in his account of Cuba, says: "No less
wonderful is the Fish Manaie; it breeds for the most part in the Sea, yet sometimes swimming up
the Rivers, comes ashore and eats Grass." 5

This account, however, is of little value, as it was copied by Ogilby, who does not state
whence he derived it. Du Tertre states that two calves are born at a time. " If the mother is
taken," he writes, "one is assured of having the young: for they follow their mother and continue
to move about the canoe until they are made companions of her misfortune." 6

Descourtlitz, writing regarding his own observations in 1809, says: "The Manatees possess a
gentle and amiable nature, and lament when they are separated from their young, which the
mother nourishes with much tenderness. They appear sensitive and intelligent; they weep when
they are taken without having received any bad treatment, seeming to regret that they can never
return to their haunts. Although sometimes they appear to avoid man, at other times they regard
him without suspicion and seem to implore his pity. The young do not quit the mother for many
years, and, sharing her dangers, often become the victims of their filial devotion." 7

Brandt, who has examined much of the literature of the subject, states that it is said that the
period of gestation lasts eleven months, and that the young follow the mother a half year. 8

FOOD OF SIBENIANS. The Sireuians, as a group, are very strictly graminivorous, and the
American Manaiees form 110 exception. The structure of their lips and teeth is such that this i'act
might be surmised were nothing known of their habits. Living as they do at the mouths of rivers
and about the coast, or in the upper waters of streams, they find no lack of aquatic vegetation on
which to subsist. Exactly what plants they thrive best upon has been the subject of inquiry by
several observers, especially those who have been interested in the attempt to keep the Manatee in
captivity. Mr. Chapman informs us that the specimen at the Philadelphia, gardens ate freely of
various garden vegetables cabbage, celery tops, spinach, kale, baked apples, and others, while
they devoured as well quantities of the aquatic plant Vallineria spiral, and the sea-weed Ulva
latissima? The Central Park specimen seems to have been more dainty. "A variety of aquatic

'GARROD: Transactions Zoological Society of London, x, 1877, p. 137.

S MUBIE: Transactions Zoological Society of London, xi, 1880, p. 27.

'CHAPMAN: Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, xxvii, 1875, p. 452.

Forest and Stream, i, 1873, p. 169.

s OGILBY: America, 1671, p. :!!">.

6 Du TKIITUB: Hiwtoire. Nat. des Antilles, 1607, pp. 201,2(U.

* DESCOURTLITZ : Voyage <Fnn Natnralistc, ii, 1809, pp. 274,275.

BRANDT: Symbol* Sireuologica;, fasc. iii, I861-'t>8, p. 256.

"CHAPMAN. H. C., in Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia, xxvii, 1875, pp. 459-461.


plants were placed before its month." sa\ s Mr. ( 'onklin, -and cacli in Mien rejected At length
some canna. ('niiini iinlii-n, was procured, which it (U'voiirc<l greedily, and wliidi it continues to n-.e
alternately with sea weed. 1'in-iis i-ixiriilnsnx, nlitajned in tlie Fast Kiver." 1 The process of eating
takes place under water, which seems strange, in view of the fact that the animal cannot breathe
while therein engaged.

Dr. Mnrie thus intcrcstingh narrates the feeding habits of the Maiwtee at the London
Zoological Ciardeiis in 1878: "On first arrival at the H(|iiaritun, cabbage, lettuce, water ci ess, '
pieces of carrot and turnip, loose and bundles, of ha\ , and quantities of pond weed were put into
the tank, both floating and sunk by weights attached. Occasionally it would snitt" or examine
these by snout and lips without chewing or swallowing, until its appetite returned as above
mentioned. It then showed a preference to water-cress, though often taking cabbage, but after-
wards it chose lettuce, and entirely eschewed the others. When in the height of health it consumed,
according to Mr. C'aniugtou, from ninety to one hundred and twelve pounds of green food daily.
As lettuce became scarce and dear it cost ten shillings a day to supply it with the French sort; and
although cabbage, etc., was then cheap and abundant, it daintily chose the former, and as steadily
avoided and refused the latter." 1


What relates to the food of the Manatee in the writings of travelers and explorers is so connected
with observations on its habits in general, that I may be pardoned for not withdrawing the facts
for insertion in the previous paragraph. We shall find in reviewing the various accounts of the
habits of Sea cows that there is not always a harmony of statements, and it will be necessary lo
look with a critical eye upon the narratives of some of the earlier voyagers, who seem to have been
a little confused sometimes by the unfamiliar phenomena with which they were surrounded.

The first apparent reference to the Americaji Manatees in literature appears to be that in the
nairativc of Columbus's tiist voyage, at the stage of his first departure for Spain, in 1493. Taking
up the thread of the narrative as given by Herrara, we read as follows:

" ]\'r<lnrxilai/ the ninth of January, he hoised sail, came to Punta Roxa, or Hed Point, which is
thirty six Leagues Fast of Monte Christo, and there they took Tortoises as big as bucklers, as they
\\ent to lay their eggs ashore. The Admiral [Columbus] aftirm'd he had thereabouts seen three
Mermaids, that i ais'd themselves far above the Water, and that they were not so handsome as they
are painted, that they had something like a human Face, and that he had seen others on the Coast
of Gui>ii."

The probability of the fact that the mermaids here referred to were really Manatees is in
Columbus'* statement of having seen others on the coast of Guinea, as it is in that region that the
African Manatee, T. senegalcmis, is abundant. Not many years later, in 1502, on the occasion of
Coltimlms's fourth voyage to America, the Manatee became well known to the adventurers while
at San Domingo. Oviedo, as quoted by ilerrara, says:

"The Spaniards at this Time found a new sort of Fish, which was a considerable advantage to
them: tho' in those parts there is much Variety. It is call'd Manati, in shape like a skin they use
to carry Wine in, having only two Feet at the Slionldars, with which it swims, and it is found both
in the Sea and in Hivers. From the Middle it sharpens off to the Tail, the Mead of it is like that
of an Ox, but shorter, and more fleshy at the Snout : the Fyes small, the Colour of it grey, the Skin
very hard, and some scattering Hairs on it. Some of them are twenty Foot long, and ten in Thick-

TONKI.IX, in Knnwt ami Strraiu. i. 1-71. ]>. Hii.
' Mi 1:11:. in Trans. Xnnlii^ii-iil Sm-ii-ty l.omlmi. xi, 1880, pp.
J HKUUAlt\ (STKVKXS): Hist. Ainrrica, i, l"i r >, p. Hi.


ness. The Feet are round, and have four Claws on each of them. The Females bring forth like
the Cows, and have two Dugs to give suck. . . . Sometimes they are taken ashore, grazing
near the Sea, or Elvers, and when young they are taken with Nets." 1

Then follows the oft repeated story of the tame Manatee of the Cazique Carametex:

"Thus the Cazique Carametex took one, and fed it twenty six Years in a Pond, and it grew
sensible and tame, and would come when eall'd by the name of Mato, which signifies Noble. It
would eat whatsoever was given it by Hand, and went out of the Water to feed in the House,
would play with the Boys, let them get upon him, was pleas'd with Musick, carry'd Men over the
Pool, and took up ten at a Time, without any Difficulty." 2

FATHEK ACUNA UPON THE " PEGEBX'EY." In the fourth decade of the succeeding century
Father Acuna, in narrating his adventures on the Amazon River, makes mention of the South
American Manatee somewhat at length. Au-ong other things he says: "But above all, the fish,
that like a king lords it over all the others, and which inhabits this river from its sources to its
mouth, is the Pegebuey (Fish Ox), a fish which when tasted only can retain the name, for no one
could distinguish it from well-seasoned meat. It is large as a calf a year and a half old, but on its
head it has neither ears nor horns. . . . This fish supports itself solely on the herbage on
which it browses, as if in reality a bullock; and from this circumstance the flesh derives so good
a flavour, and is so nutritious, that a small quantity leaves a person better satisfied and more
vigorous than if he had eaten double the amount of mutton. It cannot keep its breath long
under water; and thus, as it goes along, it rises up every now and then to obtain more air, when
it meets with total destruction the moment it comes in sight of its enemy." 3

Acuna no one seems to have added any new facts, or supposably new facts, to the history of the
habits of the Manatees until Hernandez and Rocbefort published their narratives. The work of
the former I have not had at ( ommand, but from F. Cuvier's notes it would seem that it contains
nothing of importance. Rocbefort, the second edition of whose work on the Antilles was pub-
lished in ]665, gives the following information: "This fish 1'eeds upon plants which it collects
about the rocks and on the shallows which are not covered with more than a fathom (brasxe) of
water. The females breed at the same season as do cows, and have two mammae with which they
suckle their young. Two calves are born at a birth, which are not adaudoned by the mother until
they have no more need of special nourishment, or until they can browse upon plants like the
mother." 4

15. BIET'S AND Du TERTRE'S ACCOUNTS. Biet repeats these observations, although it is to
be believed independently, saying that the Manatee roams about the shores near the sea browsing
on the plants which grow there. 5

Du Tertre in effect repeats the little that his predecessors have laid down, but adds some
additional observations which are interesting if sufficiently substantiated. "The food of this
fish," he says, " is a little plant which grows in the sea, and on this it browses after the manner of
an ox. After being filled with this food it seeks the fresh-water streams, where it drinks and
bathes twice a day. Having eaten and been refreshed it goes to sleep (Jen dart) with its snout
half out of water, a sign by which its presence is recognized by the fishers from afar." 6

(STEVENS): His'ory of Anieiicu, i, 1/25, p. 27H.
"IlKKKARA (STEVENS): History of America, i, 1725, p. 279.

'ClIRISTOVAL BE AcuS* : River of the Amazons 1041, pp. 68-91). (Hakluyt Society.)
4 RocilKKOi:T: HiHtoiro cles lies Antilles, 2<1 cd., 1665, pp. 194, 195.
*BiET: Voyage en I'Islo <le Cayenne, 1GG4, p. 346.
Du TEHTHE : Hint, gdne'ralo <les Antilles, 1667, p. 200.


THE BUCCANEER EXQUKMKU.VS ACCODNT. Only a few years later \ve tinil the buccaneers
making lair use of the Manatee in replenishing their oftentimes empty larders, and, in the interval
of slaughtering the defenseless Indians and colonists, one of these hardy pirates Amis time to
record some O!>M-I \ aiions regarding the aiiiuial. After the destruction of 1'anamu, in 1070,
Exqiicmclin and his companions sail along the coast of Costa Uica, en route for Jamuica. He
alludes to the Sea-cow in the following language:

"This Accident and Encounter retarded our Journey, in the space of two days, more than we
could regain in a whole Fortnight. This was the occasion that obliged us to return unto our
former Station, where we remained for a fax days. From thence we directed our Course for a
I Mace, called lioca del Dragon, there to make Provisions of Flesh. Especially of a certain Animal
which the Spaniards call Manentinct, and the Dutch, Sea Cow*, because the llead, Nose, and
Teeth, of this Beast, are very like unto those of a Cow. They are found commonly in such
places, as under the depth of the Waters, are very full of Grass, on which, it is thought, they
do pasture. . . . Their manner of engendering likewise, is the same with the usual manner
of the Land-Cow, the Male of this kind being in similitude, almost one and the same thing with
a Bull. Yet notwithstanding they conceive and breed but once. But the space of time that they
go with Calf, I could not as yet learn. These Fishes have the sense of Hearing extremely acute,
in so much as iu taking them, the Fishermen ought not to make the least noise, nor row,
unless it be very slightly." 1

The buccaneer seems to have gathered correct information as to the mode of life of the
Manatee, but as to their breeding but once, although, as 1 believe, we have no facts to disprove
the statement, analogical considerations would lead us to reject it.

CONDAMiNfc's ACCOUNT. Coudamine is, perhaps, the only other early wiiter to whom it will
be necessary to refer. He alludes to the South American Manatee among other fish, in which
group of animals all the early explorers insisted in placing it. " It is not amphibious, properly
speaking," he says, "because it never comes entirely out of the water, and cannot walk, not having
but the two fins near the head, in the form of wings 10 inches long, which serve in place of arms
and feet; it lifts only the head out of the water, and that to gather the plants along the shore."

In regard to the habits of Manatees in confinement, I can only quote from the writings of the
American and English observers who have had the opportunity to study the specimens in tin 1 Phila-
delphia, New York, and London zoological gardens. Of the Central Park specimen Mr. Conklin
states: "It manifests at times extreme playfulness, and will answer the call of the keeper by a
peculiar noise, somewhat resembling the squeak of a mouse. Some time ago the epidermis on tin-
back peeled off in small pieces, leaving a bright new skin similar to that of a snake just after slied-
ding. It was kept out in the open air until the thermometer fell to 53, when it was removed to
a building. It appears to be very sensitive to cold, curling up its back if the water is in the least
chilly. It has been observed to remain under water five or six minutes at a time without coming
to the surface to breathe." 2

Miss CRANE'S OBSERVATIONS. Miss Agnes Crane, who attentively observed the South
American Manatees at the Brighton Aquarium in 1870, has given us some interesting fact*
regarding the mode of respiration of the Sirenians and their attitudes when at rest. After stating
that the specimens were received from Trinidad, she says:

"The young male, a fine animal in robust condition, measured, in November, 187!>, lour feet
ten inches from snout to tail, with a maximum girth of four feet. The female was four feet eight

1 EXQCKMKI.IX : Buccaneers of America, Kiinlit.li translation. KM, pp. 82,83.
: CiiXKi.ix, in Forest anil Stream, i. 1*7:1, p. 16(5.


inches in length, of a lighter slate-colour than her companion, i>f more slender build and proportions.
Both are marked with white on the under sides of their bodies. The pair occupied a tank twelve
feet six inches in length by eight feet six inches in breadth, with an almost Hat bottom. Temper-
ature of water, about 70 F. : depth, two feet six inches in the daytime, reduced to six inches
at night. The water is run off daily, a fresh supply being admitted at the requisite heat from a
neighboring tank filled with warmed fresh water. Although the area of these quarters appear
somewhat limited when compared with the bulk of the animals, the Manatees seem perfectly
comfortable, and, being of a sluggish disposition, rarely explore the whole of their small domain.
Nor do they, so far as I observed, avail themselves of the shallowness of the water and, by sup-
porting their bodies on the tail tin. keep their heads above the surface and avoid the constant
repetition of the upward movement iu order to breathe the necessary air. They habitually rest
side by side at the bottom of the tank, with the caudal flu stretched out quite straight, and the
tips of the fore fins just touching the ground.

"Thence they rise gently, often with the least perceptible movement of the tail and flapping
motion of the paddles, raising the upper part of the body until the head reaches the surface, when
the air is admitted through the nostril flap-valves, which are closely shut after the operation, and
the original and usual position is gently resumed. They seem generally to be compelled to rise to
the surface for aerial respiration every two or three minutes, but the interval between respiration
varies much at different times. In one quarter of an hour, during which one was carefully timed,
it rose nine times, at very irregular intervals. I have been informed that they occasionally remain
under the water for a much longer period, but have never observed them to exceed six minutes,
although I have timed them before and after feeding, and at all hours of the day. The respiratory
movement appears to be repeated almost mechanically and without effort." 1

The fact that these Manatees in confinement kept constantly beneath the surface does not
accord with the observations of Du Tertre, already quoted. It is probable that the air about the
aquarium was not sufficiently warm to induce them to float with the head out of water, as they do
in their native haunts. The same observer furnishes some facts of a highly important character
regarding the attempts made by the Manatees at terrestrial progression.

"The habits of the animals in captivity, while affording occasional evidence of the ease and
rapidity with which they move in the water, do not furnish much support to the views of their
capability of habitual active progression on land. Yet it must be admitted that, supplied with a
NiiflBeiency of nicely varied food, they have no inducement to leave the water, and that the con-

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