Manatees Have "Long-Distance" Sense of Touch, Experts Say

By Blake de Pastino for National Geographic

If you ever go swimming with a wild Florida manatee, be prepared for what might look like an amorous advance.

Renowned for their touchy-feely behavior, sea cows have been known to approach unwitting swimmers, close their eyes, open their mouths, and lean in as if busting a manatee make-out move.

But freaked-out snorkelers can relax. The behavior, scientists say, is just one example of how manatees use their uniquely developed sense of touch.

New research suggests that manatees' tactile sense is so finely tuned that the animals may experience "touch at a distance"—an ability to "feel" objects and events in the water from relatively far away.

UCTP Taino News Editor’s Note: The word "manatee" originates from the Taino word "Manati". Traditionally, the Taino consider the manati as sacred as North American Indigenous Peoples consider the buffalo sacred. Prior to colonization Taino hunters used every part of the animal for food, tools, and other resources.

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