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What Does Manatee Taste Like? Can You Eat it?

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are large-sized, fully aquatic marine mammals known for their unique features.

It used to be a widely consumed seafood until its population became endangered.

Now, laws have been set to prevent this aquatic mammal’s hunting.

What does a manatee taste like? It’s a commonly asked question about this marine animal.

Given its physical appearance, it looks less appealing.

However, it’s delicious and healthy food.

It’s no surprise that this mammal population declined due to overhunting.

More on its taste profile and other crucial aspects are discussed below.

What is Manatee?

A manatee is a gigantic herbivore sea mammal that consumes over sixty different seawater and freshwater plants.

It can grow up to 13 ft 1 inch long and weigh up to 1300lb.

This giant mammal habitats mainly in marshy, shallow coastal areas.

You will find this sea cow in the Amazon basin, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Caribbean Sea.

This mammal doesn’t leave the water and comes up every five minutes for air.

It also depends on its activity, which sometimes can hold breath for twenty minutes.

Another fascinating fact about this creature is its close relation to the elephant.

Hence, it answers its giant physical attributes.

This sea mammal also doesn’t have neck vertebrae, making them unable to turn their heads around.

Its declining population is mainly due to human-related issues through human objects and habitat destructions.

Manatees are slow-moving and curious creatures, often leading to violent collisions with ships and boat.

What Does Manatee Taste Like?

This sea cow surprisingly tastes like pork and has a flavor like veal.

It has low-fat content and calories, unlike beef or pork.

It’s not consumed raw and is often prepared in different cooking methods adding various types of seasoning and spices.

The texture of this meat is the same as beef, pork, and veal.

It has an earthy and rich taste with a hint of a sweet note.

Manatee meat has been consumed by humans for decades and is still prevalent, but less than before.

It’s mainly due to the decline in population and laws set to prevent the consumption of this creature.

It was a source of food for the indigenous people of South and Central America.

Not only food, but is also used for medicinal purposes and ceremonial feasts.

Regarding nutritional value, it’s protein-rich and contains vital minerals and vitamins.

Additionally, it has omega-3 fatty acids and minerals such as selenium and zinc.

It is red meat prepared in different ways, such as grilling or cooked as stews.

You can also marinate the meat and prepare it like cutlets and kebabs.

Before cooking, thorough cleaning is essential to eliminate bacteria and cross-contamination.

Avoid having it raw and cooked thoroughly to kill off parasites.

No doubt it’s a delicious tasting sea cow, but it comes with a caveat.

Ensure you follow the authority’s rules and regulations to prevent penalties while catching this mammal.

Is Manatee Edible and Legal?

Manatee is safe to eat but is illegal in various countries due to their declining population.

In the United States, it is protected by laws passed by the federal government.

There is a protection law against this aquatic mammal in Florida as well.

Various conservation programs are also established to save the manatee population.

In some states or countries, there is no such law making it legal to consume meat.

Some manatees are also taken care of by government facilities in rehabilitation centers.

Despite various initiatives and programs, it still faces human threats.

In 2021, due to the seagrass die-off, manatees were left with nothing to eat, leading to starvation.

Since it’s a herbivores aquatic mammal, it cannot survive without sea plants.

Although it’s safe to eat, hunting them may lead you to imprisonment.

Therefore, it would be wise to consult the concerned authority to prevent legal issues.

Various local and state laws are implemented to protect this mammal.

The rules and regulations may vary. Hence it’s crucial to do proper research before you embark.

If it’s illegal, switch to pork or beef, as it shares a similar taste profile.

It’s better to be a law-abiding citizen than to be charged with penalties.


Manatee is a giant aquatic mammal that purely survives on sea plants.

Its meat is safe to eat and has been consumed for centuries.

It tastes like pork but has low fats and lower caloric value.

Its meat is tender, rich in flavor, and has an earthy taste with a slight note of sweetness.

Compared to older times, consumption of this meat is reduced due to laws set by the local and state authority to conserve its population.

It’s declining quickly and may face extinction if the proper measure is not taken.

Hence, it’s considered illegal to hunt and eat this sea cow.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Can you eat manatee?

Yes, you can eat manatee. However, it is illegal to hunt or capture wild manatees in the United States due to conservation laws.

If you do find a legal source of manatee meat, it has a pleasing mild flavor and is usually prepared as steaks or ground into burgers.

Manatee meat is high in healthy fats, like oleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids, as well as minerals such as potassium, phosphorus, zinc and iron.

What flavor is manatee meat?

Manatee meat has a mild flavor that is slightly sweet, similar to veal. It also tends to be quite lean and chewy, like beef.

Some describe the flavor as being earthy with hints of grass. Manatee meat can also have a slight game-like taste depending on where it was sourced from and how it was cooked.

What is the best way to cook manatee meat?

Manatee meat should be cooked low and slow in order to ensure that all of the flavors come out and that it does not dry out.

Braising, poaching and slow-roasting are all good cooking methods for preparing manatee meat.

You can also use marinades with acidic ingredients to tenderize the meat, such as lemon juice or vinegar.

Finally, manatee meat is usually served medium-rare so that it remains juicy and flavorful.

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