Snooty, the oldest known manatee in the world, will celebrate his 65th birthday with another free bash in the Spanish Plaza in front of the South Florida Museum. There will be children's games and art activities, free cookies and drinks for the children and a display of Snooty's birthday cards submitted for the card contest Saturday at Snooty's 65th Birthday Bash, Arts & Wildlife Awareness Festival.
Snooty's 65 Friday Fun Facts courtesy of South Florida Museum, which each Friday through July 19 is posting fun facts about Snooty and his manatee friends until they've reached 65 cool facts about manatees.
65. Snooty was born on July 21, 1948 in an aquarium on the Prinz Valdemar, a Danish warship that capsized in the Miami Harbor!
64. Manatees can hold their breath for up to 20 minutes when they're asleep.
63. Manatees have lungs that run almost the entire distance from their shoulders to their tail - it takes BIG lungs to hold your breath for that long!
62. A manatee's closest animal kingdom relative? The Elephant! Manatees share the most genetic similarities to the large, plant-grazing land mammals. Do you see the similarities? Thick, grey skin, toenails on their flippers, and...
61. A prehensile lip! Just like the end of an elephant's trunk, manatees can use their lip to grab food and pull it into their mouths.
60. Manatee's only have molars to chew all that food - they don't have any teeth in the front of their mouths at all.
59. Those teeth at the back of a manatee’s mouth are referred to as "marching molars." As they wear-down their front molar chewing on sea grasses - which sometimes have sand and other gritty debris mixed in - that tooth falls out and is replaced by a new tooth at the back of the row, pushing the rest of the teeth forward. This process continues throughout a manatee's entire life. Even at 65 years old, Snooty is growing new teeth - pretty cool!
58. Snooty is an official member of AARP.
57. Swimming at about the same pace as humans walk, Florida manatees can travel as far as Massachusetts and back in one warm season.
56. Manatees cannot tolerate water temps below 68°F
55. Manatees are strictly herbivores – they only eat plant life found in their water habitats.
54. Manatees can help us clean up our invasive aquatic plant populations by eating large quantities of water hyacinth, west Indian marsh grass, hydrilla, and other invasive plants.
53. Manatees are not closely related to cows, though they are nicknamed “sea cows” because of their grazing behavior.
52. Groups of manatees are called “herds.”
51. Different species of manatees (including the Florida Manatee, Antillean Manatee, Amazonian Manatee, West African Manatee, and Dugong) are found around the world: North, Central, and South America, Africa, Southern Asia, and Australia.
50. There is one species of extinct manatee: the Stellar Sea Cow.
49. Manatees were once hunted as a source of food. In fact, that is how the Stellar Sea Cow became extinct. Manatee hunting is still a problem in Africa.
48. They use their whiskers (vibrissae) to feel their surroundings, like we use our fingers. They also have very sensitive hairs all over their bodies.
47. Manatees have tongues, but they can’t stick them out like people can.
46. Manatees have telescoping eyes which are similar to a camera lens in that they open and close all the way around like the aperture of a camera.
45. Manatees breathe only through their noses, not their mouths.
44. Snooty is trained to roll over and present a flipper on command for animal care purposes.
43. Snooty has shown that manatees can be fairly easily trained though his work with various researchers.
42. Snooty is 1 of only 4 or 5 manatees around the entire state of Florida who can have direct human contact and training on a daily basis because of the Endangered Species Acts.
41. Snooty is an average size for a male West Indian manatee at just over 1,000 pounds. He has been on a diet recently which has brought him down from about 1200 pounds – good work Snooty!
40. Snooty was named after “Baby Snooks,” an early vaudeville show character which continued to be a popular radio personality through the early 1950s. “Baby Snooks” became “Baby Snoots” – and as he grew into maturity, his name was eventually simplified to “Snooty.”
39. Snooty draws in about 5,000 people over the course of four hours each year for his birthday celebration – Snooty’s Birthday Bash, Arts & Wildlife Awareness Festival. This year’s Birthday Bash will take place on July 20, 2013 from 10 am – 2 pm.
38. Snooty was the first manatee to be transferred across the state.
37. Manatees eat about 8-10% of their body weight each day! Snooty has slowed down a bit in his old age, however. He eats about 70 pounds of veggies every day which is around 7% of his body weight.
36. Snooty has a sweet tooth! His favorite treats are pineapples and strawberries… but he only gets those on his birthday for dietary reasons.
35. Snooty received two veterinarian checkups every year.
34. Dr. David Murphy has been Snooty’s vet since the early 1990s. He is the world’s only geriatric manatee doctor.
33. A hydrophone was placed in Snooty’s tank in 1985. This was the first time people recognized the high pitched squeaks Snooty made as vocalization. It is now well known that manatees make this sound to communicate with each other.
32. Snooty has been sharing his home with wild manatees since 1998.
31. He has now shared his pool with 26 young manatees recuperating from illness or injury, including his current roommates, Longo and Cheeno.
30. Manatees are gentle and friendly, but it is illegal to harass or interfere with manatees in the wild. This includes feeding them; holding, touching, or riding them; hosing them down from docks; or bothering them in any way.
29. Manatees have been featured on postage stamps from around the world – including the United States.
28. Florida offers a special manatee license plate, with proceeds benefiting manatee care.
27. The only way zoologists can accurately determine the age of a manatee is by counting the growth rings on its ear bone – kind of like the rings on a tree!
26. Manatees don’t usually dive more than about three meters (or ten feet) deep, but they can go as deep as ten meters (33 feet).
25. Manatees have nostrils or “nose plugs” which close when they are under water to keep water from entering their lungs.
24. Manatee ancestors date back about 50 million years! The modern manatee has been swimming in coastal waters for about one million years.
23. Female manatees are pregnant for 11-12 months.
22. Twins or multiple births are very rare in manatees.
21. Baby manatees are called calves.
20. Females care for their young for only two years before the calf can survive on its own.
19. Female manatees grow much larger than males. Their body mass can be as much as 2-3 times the size of a male manatee. This allows plenty of room to carry the large manatee calves (babies) that they will give birth and nurse.
18. Mother manatees nurse their young directly under their pectoral fin (front flipper) for the first year of the calves’ lives.
17. Snooty’s mother’s name was Lady.
16. Sailors used to get confused after long trips to sea and it is believed that they saw manatees in the open waters and believed them to be mermaids – starting the myth of the half human-half fish creatures.
15. Manatees are marine mammals, not fish.
14. Manatees breathe air, have hair on their bodies, give live birth, nurse their young, and are warm blooded – all characteristics of mammals.
13. Manatees have terrible eyesight, but excellent hearing and super-sensitive whiskers (vibrissae) to make up for it!
12. It is believed that manatees see only blue, green, grey, and shades of light and dark.
11. Snooty has three toenails on each flipper, some manatees have four.
10. Snooty’s very own molar appears in the South Florida Museum’s “Fabulous Florida Fossils” display as exhibit #33.
Snooty's 65th Birthday Bash, Arts & Wildlife Awareness Festival 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday; South Florida Museum, 201 10th St. W., Bradenton; 746-4131; southfloridamuseum.org