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Manatee Moves

Moving a half-ton of body weight through water wouldn't seem easy, but the manatee sure does make it look that way. Whether it's moving forward, diving down, coming up, turning around, barrel-rolling, or even "walking" on its front flippers, this gentle giant can do it all. Just look at them move in these videos below.

Manatee Movement
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(Viewing Tips)

Manatee "Walking"
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(Viewing Tips)
Credit: USGS-Sirenia
Video Credit: SMC, International Film Projects

Try This! Journaling Questions:

1) Use the videos to closely observe the manatee's body parts as it swims. What body parts does the swimming manatee use as it moves itself forward, steers or turns, dives, rolls over, and "walks" along the ocean floor? Would you say that a manatee has a body that's well suited for what it needs to do in life? Explain.

2) Compare how a manatee moves to the way that other marine mammals, such as whales or dolphins, move. List adaptations of each creature that enable it to move as it does. What changes, if any, would you make to each species if you could?

Teacher Tip: Video Clips and the Scientific Process
Observation is the first step in the scientific process. Scientists themselves sometimes use video to enhance their own, direct observations. With video, they can replay an event, see it in fast or slow motion, make time-lapse observations, document changes, focus more closely, freeze action, etc.

Video clips provide an opportunity for students to make authentic scientific observations, too. Here are some suggestions for viewing video clips as a scientist:

National Science Education Standards

Science as Inquiry
Ask a question about objects, organisms, events. (K-4)

Use data to conduct a reasonable explanation. (K-4)

Life Science
Organisms have basic needs. For example, animals need air, water and food; plants require air, water, nutrients, and light.

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