Scientific name: Sirenia
Sirenians (Sirenia), also known as sea cows, are a group of mammals which includes dugongs and manatees. There are four species of sirenians alive today, three species of manatees and one species of dugong. A fifth species of sirenian, the Stellar’s sea cow, became vanished in the 18th century due to over-hunting by humans. The Stellar’s sea cow was the largest member of the sirenians and was once abundant throughout the North Pacific.
Sirenians are huge, slow-moving, aquatic mammals that live in shallow marine and freshwater habitats in tropical and subtropical regions. Their preferred habitats include swamps, estuaries, marine wetlands and coastal waters. Sirenians are well-adapted for an aquatic lifestyle, with an elongated, torpedo-shaped body, two paddle-like front flippers and a broad, flat tail.
The key characteristics of sirenians include:
• Large aquatic herbivores.
• Streamlined body, no dorsal fin
• Two front flippers and no hind legs
• Flat, paddle-shaped tail
• Continuous tooth growth and replacement of molars Continue reading