Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature What Do Manatees Eat? Share Flipboard Email Print James R.D. Scott / Getty Images Animals & Nature Marine Life Marine Life Profiles Marine Habitat Profiles Sharks Key Terms Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Mammals Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More By Jennifer Kennedy Marine Science Expert M.S., Resource Administration and Management, University of New Hampshire B.S., Natural Resources, Cornell University Jennifer Kennedy, M.S., is an environmental educator specializing in marine life. She serves as the executive director of the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation. our editorial process Jennifer Kennedy Updated May 16, 2017 Manatees are herbivorous, meaning they feed on plants. Manatees and dugongs are the only plant-eating marine mammals. They forage for about 7 hours a day, eating 7-15% of their body weight. This would be about 150 pounds of food a day for the average, 1,000-pound manatee. Manatees can eat both freshwater and saltwater (marine) plants. Some plants they eat include: Saltwater Plants: SeagrassesMarine algaeManatee grassSea cloverShoal grassTurtle grassWidgeon grass Freshwater Plants: Alligator weedFloating hyacinthHydrillaMusk grassPickerelweedWater lettuceWater celery Interestingly, it appears that the rostrum of each species of manatee is positioned to take advantage of the location of their preferred plants in the water column. Basically this means that the snout of each species of manatee is well adapted to easily eating the types of plants found in its particular range.