Subject: Manatees Related to Whales?

Nancy Sadusky (
Wed, 30 Sep 1998 22:02:59 +0000

Hi, thanks so much for your question:

Are manatees related to whales?


Although manatees have a body shape similar to that of a sea lion or 
walrus, they are not related.  Nor are they related to whales or 
dolphins, which belong to the scientific order Cetacea.  
Surprisingly, the manatee's closest relatives are the elephant and a 
small, rodent-like animal known as the hyrax. Manatees belong to the 
scientific order Sirenia, which comes from the word "siren." Rumor 
has it that sailors once thought manatees were mermaids.  Their 
association with the sea nymphs of ancient mythology is also evident 
in the graceful way they move through the water.

Other sirenians include the West African manatee, the 
Amazonia manatee, the dugong, and Steller's sea cow, which was hunted 
to extinction in 1768.

You can find out more information about sirenians of the world by 
visiting our web page at:

Nancy Sadusky

     Communications Director
      Save the Manatee Club
       500 N. Maitland Ave.
       Maitland, FL  32751
         (407) 539-0990