November is Manatee Awareness Month, which makes it the perfect time to celebrate these gentle giants and the conservation efforts to protect them. These aquatic mammals have elongated round bodies that taper to a flat, paddle-shaped tail, and they have two forelimbs (called flippers). The average adult manatee is up to 14 feet long and can weigh up to 3,000 pounds. Manatees are indicator species – that means when manatees are thriving, their immediate environment is flourishing with life. While in the 1970s, there were just a few hundred manatees, conservation efforts have helped this species rebound. Today, the range-wide population is estimated to be at least 13,000 manatees with more than 6,500 in the southeastern United States and Puerto Rico. Photo courtesy of Carol Grant.