Luckily, manatees are so large that they have very few predators that they need to defend themselves from. However, the predators that can potentially attack them are quite large- sharks, alligators, and even jaguars. When a manatee is attacked in the wild, they are often defenseless and tend to be on the losing side of the battle. Many young manatees often lose their lives when they are young because of these attacks. Mother manatees will fight for their young to the death and are sometimes able to scare away the predator with a swift hit from their tails. Manatees do not have great speed though and cannot turn their heads without turning the rest of their bodies so their fighting options are limited.
The only defense mechanism a manatee has is to swim away. They ordinarily glide slowly through the water at 5 mph, but if threatened, they can swim 15 mph for a short distance. Manatees are threatened more by humans than any natural predator.
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