Manatee Symbolism & Meaning

Feeling rushed all the time? Are you living life on automatic pilot or just going through the motions, but not really living? Manatee as a Spirit, Totem, and Power Animal can help! Manatee teaches us how to take a deep breath and the importance of slowing our pace for mindful living. Delve deeply in Manatee symbolism and meaning to find out how this animal spirit guide can illuminate, calm, and guide you.

Manatee Table of Contents

Manatee Symbolism & Meaning

“You are so lucky because you live on the west coast of Florida, where there are lots and lots of manatees, … Most of the kids in the country don’t know about manatees and how wonderful they are.”
– John Lithgow

Manatees live on seagrass and algae which is why they appear in shallow costs and some rivers. If you were a Manatee, you would spend about half of your day eating (up to about 1,200 pounds). Manatee certainly doesn’t need to be reminded to eat her vegetables!

In West Africa and India Manatees live between the fresh water and salt. They’re able to do this because of the way their body processes salt, so it never harms them. The symbolism and meaning here for Manatee is that we can live near toxic situations and people, but we don’t have to allow that negative energy into our sphere.

They prefer water that is 60 degrees or above. That seems surprising because they look so fat. In reality, their body is mostly stomach! Manatees are susceptible to death from cold stress. From a human perspective, this speaks to staying close to those with warm feelings towards us.

Manatees have an amazing respiratory system. When they breathe, they REALLY breathe. Humans only replace about 10 percent of the oxygen in their lungs, while the Manatee replaces 90 percent. You know that phrase, “Just breathe”? That could be Manatee Spirits’ mantra.

On land, Manatee has a kissing cousin in Elephants. The two creatures evolved from one Ancestor but with two different environments; this is an interesting lesson in “nature vs. nurture” in the wild. Both Elephants and Manatees do not worry about losing teeth. When one falls out, another grows right back!

Manatee never seems rushed. They move slowly, resting regularly and traveling. Manatee can do this because really they have no enemies but for human hunting. So, another message from Manatee Spirit is to take our time, especially with matters of import.

Christopher Columbus may have been the first person to spot a Manatee. The Voyages of Columbus quote his notes from January 8 in 1843 as seeing three mermaids rising out of the sea near the prow of the ship. He said they looked beautiful but with faces that have masculine traits. This misidentification makes sense because of their smooth body. With the right lighting, it’s easy to imagine this mythical creature before you; this may give Manatee some connections with Shape Shifting.

A Manatee’s skin is very sensitive. Mentally they are not quite as keen as a dolphin but can learn basic tasks. They see in full color. Female Manatees typically birth one calf that stays with her and nurses for two years. Thus, the Manatee symbolism and meaning certainly ties to maternal instincts. And while Manatee never leaves the water, it does have to come to the surface to breathe.

One of the cute aspects of the Manatee (if that face weren’t enough) is that sometimes you can find them playing. They come up to the surface riding the waves and doing barrel rolls. Sadly, Manatee is a vulnerable species currently with numbers estimated at 10,000 globally.

Keyword and characteristics associated with Manatee Spirit Animal include vital breath (prana), water, shapeshifting, protection, spiritual love, generosity, compassion, curiosity, peace, trust, emotion, tranquility, and measured movement.

Manatee Spirit Animal

One of the key messages of the Manatee Spirit Animal is slow down. You are going way too fast and missing important details. Rushing can also lead to unintended mistakes that could prove very detrimental to your current situation. So, “just breath” and stand strong. Walk, don’t run toward your goal deftly.

While you are taking things at a slower pace, Manatee suggests that you also simplify your life. Get rid of the clutter. Wear a pin that says, “Stop me before I volunteer again.” As you simplify, you will find a lot of anxiety disappears. Ask yourself if you have way too many things on your proverbial dance card, then figure out what is absolutely necessary.

Manatee sometimes brings a little luck when they visit you as a Spirit Animal, along with prosperity. Often these two blessings intertwine with your relationship or new experiences. Keep your mind and heart open.

Another lesson from Manatee is determining for what you truly hunger in your life? We need sustenance, but not just physical. You also have a mind and spirit to satiate. A proper “diet” something that can wait, but rather you should be doing it every day like a vitamin for wholeness. So, what fills those hungers? Perhaps it’s reaching out and changing a little bit of your world for the better, for example.

Manatee’s greatest threats are humans. Here, Manatee Animal Guide tells you to be wary. There is someone (or several someones) who do not have your best interest in mind. They will try to tear your down to the point where you feel dead inside. Move away from that situation and find sanctuary.

On the upside, many Shamanic traditions tell us that Manatee is a healer. Some tribal medicine people used their bones to cure disease. So, if you feel bumped, bruised or in distress, Manatee has come to comfort you.

Manatee Totem Animal

If Manatee is your Totem Animal, you are a cuddler. That moment of quiet contact between you and another brings great joy and security. Here, right here everything else fades away, replaced by peace.

If the Manatee is your birth totem, you have little tolerance for violence. The world you have built is loving, calm and gentle. Peace is in the core of your soul. You cannot be your happy, giving self when you are around angry, cruel people. The problem is that those people see your distance as being smug, arrogant and judgmental. Don’t sweat that. You have to maintain that separation for your wellbeing.

Walking with Manatee means that you may be targeted by people wanting to take advantage of your sweet disposition and giving nature. You cannot always put other people’s needs before your own. Remember the value of self-care, and be circumspect about who you include in your circle of friends. You do not have to give up your benevolent nature, just remain alert.

Manatee Medicine has a solitary aspect to it. You dislike big groups and honestly need time alone on a regular basis to get your thoughts in order. Stick with a small group of people who show themselves to be true friends and nurture that connection.

Speaking of friends, making them isn’t easy for you. Manatee is a HUGE creature, meaning your aura is very substantive. People feel you coming long before you go through a door. That intense energy can frighten people until they see your easy-going demeanor. Eventually, your compassion breaks through any fears. At this point, your new friend sees your feelings. You let them know you love them, and they are important. Being a great listener doesn’t hurt either!

Manatee Power Animal

Manatee offers many positive attributes on which you might call for aid:

Restoring peace in your life: Be ready and open to positive changes.

Deflecting violence: You do not deserve abuse. Manatee is large and makes a great barrier against this negativity.

Making slow but steady progress: Manatee medicine really helps here if you have been totally stuck. You can’t go from zero to 60 right now. Just put one foot in front of the other.

Accepting the things you cannot change and finding serenity with that awareness.

Slowing down: This isn’t a swimming race. Move through life’s waters mindfully. Take time to relax and play.

Trusting and clarity. Be it self-trust, the trust of others or trust of a situation, Manatee, provides greater insight. Trust your gut more. Don’t just brush off those sensations.

Working with the Water Element or Air Element. Manatee lives with both, staying in the water but needing to surface for air. With water, you’re dealing with emotions. With air it’s communication. The two together can transform your relationships.

Manatee as an Animal Symbol Around the World

A 3,000-year-old cave in Malaysia features dugongs’ drawings (a close relative to Manatee) and titles it “lady of the sea.”

The South Pacific nation of Palau has numerous stories of the sea cow. Sometimes women transformed into them, and sometimes they help fishermen who are lost at sea. They believe that the sea cow was once human. They also feel that if this creature becomes extinct that their connection with their traditions and nature would likewise be lost.

West African stories mirror those of Palau, saying that Manatee was once human. It was a punishable crime to kill one, similar to the fate of someone who kills another human. One story here speaks of the Lady of the Sea who is a water spirit with healing powers as well as aiding with fertility. Mami Wata (the Lady/Manatee) was once a girl bathing innocently near a river. A stranger snuck up and took all her clothing, running away. She dove into the water grabbing a palm leaf to hide her body. She decided to use the leaf as a paddle and slowly turned into a Manatee.

Costa Rica declared the Manatee a national symbol.

Pupan people of New Guinea say that Manatee is an emblem of strength.

Assyrian stories repeat this theme. One story begins with the Goddess Atargatis falling in love with a simple, sweet shepherd. She accidentally killed him, not realizing how her power would affect a mortal. She was devastated and jumped into nearby waters, turning into the visage of a woman with a fish body.

A children’s’ book called Monty the Manatee (by Natalie Pritchard) is a rhyming tale of bullying and how to handle it with strength. It also reflects the idea that kindness is contagious.

From 1600-1800 there were sightings of the St. Helena Manatee on the island of St. Helena (Atlantic Ocean). This sea creature is described as being ten feet long with bushy whiskers.

Manatee Dreams

Manatee appearing in your dreams can bear a variety of messages including:

Checking your emotions.

Are you bottling up your feelings or emoting too much? Blocking your emotions only makes an inner volcano waiting to blow: Always showing too much emotion is off-putting (and people begin to ignore it).

If you are swimming with the Manatee, it means you have many of her characteristics. You are gentle, kind, warm and easy going.

A baby Manatee in your dream has two meanings. The first is nurturing and motherhood. For a woman, this could portend a pregnancy coming soon. The second is a message about self-care. Work on loving yourself more so others can move into your life more intimately.

When Manatee moves slowly through the water in your dreams, it means either you need to slow down (workaholics), or maybe your ambition has waned, and you need to pick things up just a bit.

Manatee looking at you in your dream speaks of trust issues. Do you have trouble trusting people? You may have issues form the past that influences you now. It’s time to let go of those unhealthy feelings and hit the reset button.

If Manatee is moving more quickly than normal it’s a message that you need to become more aggressive. Assert your truth and don’t back down.

Far Eastern Manatee Symbolic Meanings

In Okinawa Manatee and Dugong haven regarded as a messenger from the sea. One story claims that it was this creature who taught humans how to mate. In Southern China, the Manatee is a miraculous fish, and it was considered bad luck to catch them.

Sadly, in Tokyo, they are tossing concrete slabs into the bay, destroying much of the area where sea cow grazes. There are some areas in southern China where people are trying to create seagrass sanctuaries for endangered marine animals like the Dugong. There is also one site in both Vietnam and Cambodia. In this region, they have a special festival annually hoping to raise awareness of the danger to the Manatee.

Manatee Symbolic Meanings Key

  • Breathing
  • Compassion
  • Curiosity
  • Generosity
  • Peace
  • Shapeshifting
  • Spiritual Love
  • Tranquility
  • Trust
  • Water

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