WTF Fun Fact 12969 – Manatees Fart to Swim

Do you know a kid who loves to share fun facts about animals and just won’t stop telling you everything you never wanted to know about lizards or sharks or bugs? Well, it’s time to blow their minds with your superior animal knowledge and show them adults reign supreme in the world of truly fun facts. Manatees fart to swim.

Do manatees really fart to swim?

We’re totally serious. We even looked it up on Snopes because it seemed too good to be true.

While manatees are aquatic animals, they aren’t like fish, which can live underwater but also have something called a “swim bladder” to control their buoyancy. Instead, manatees need to float – and if you live in the water but need to stay atop it, you have three choices – be built to sit upon it (like a duck), tread water like your life depends on it (like a human), or have a mechanism that makes your body buoyant.

And since the animals we lovingly call “sea cows” eat about 100 pounds of vegetation a day, let’s just say staying perched upon a wave isn’t really an option for them. That’s why manatees developed a different mechanism to stay afloat. Farts.

Fart like your life depends on it

At Captain Mike’s Swimming with the Manatees in Crystal, Florida (whose website we’ve cited below), you’ll get a great explanation of how the fart propulsion actually works.

According to the experts who swim with the flatulent sea cows all day, all the vegetation they eat creates the same reaction in their bodies as it does in ours. Farts. Gas. Flatulence. Whatever you want to call it.

“For manatees, there is always enough gas in the body…The gas produced during digestion is stored in intestinal pouches ready for use in swimming,” note the experts.

And how does that lead to the ability to swim?

“The gas produced during digestion is lighter than water. So when the animals hold in a substantial amount of gas in intestinal pouches, they lower their overall density and float in water. On the contrary, releasing the gas from the body makes a manatee relatively denser than water and to be able to readily sink. That is why manatees fart to swim. For they have to continuously hold in enough gas in their bodies to be able to come to the surface to breathe. Then soon after, they have to fart in order to release some gas, become less buoyant, and sink underwater.”

Hold your breath

Manatees can actually hold their breath for up to 20 minutes (don’t try that one at home!). But rather than use the breath trick, they can use farts with a lot less effort.

So next time you’re in the pool, you can see how this works (without the farts – don’t use the farts). Take a big, deep breath, hold it, and then float on your back. Then release the air (from your nose or mouth, please) and notice that you sink a bit.

Then you can tell everyone around you to be grateful that you’re not a manatee. Otherwise, they would have seen a lot of bubbles from your backside.  WTF fun facts

Source: “Do manatees fart to swim?” — Swimming with the Manatees

WTF Fun Fact 12668 – The Gates of Hell

There are a couple of places on earth that are referred to as the Gates of Hell, or something similar. But we’d never heard of the one in Turkmenistan (then again, there’s not a lot of news coming out of Turkmenistan). Apparently, this particular version of the Gates of Hell really needs to be put out – if that’s even possible.

The fire put has been burning for over 50 years and no one is quite sure why. However, in January of 2022, the amazingly-named leader of Turkmenistan, President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, announced that he was asking officials to find a way to extinguish it. It’s not only using up natural resources (it’s burning gas deposits) but a giant burning greater isn’t great for air quality either.

According to an interview with Atlas Obscura, an explorer named George Kourounis has actually descended into the firery pit and gathered soil samples But he also found a big problem: “As I was digging into the ground [at the bottom of the crater] to gather these soil samples, fire would start coming out of the hole I just freshly dug because it was creating new paths for the gas to come out of the crater. So even if you were to extinguish the fire and cover it up, there’s a chance that the gas could still find its way out to the surface and all it would take is one spark to light it up again.”

Oh, and did we mention that the origins of the fire are unclear? Locals tell stories of a Soviet gas accident in 1971 and someone trying to light a collapsed rig on fire, but geologists have traced the crater back to the 1960s and the fire to the 1980s.

We may never know exactly what happens because of Turkmenistan’s isolation from the rest of the world. –  WTF fun fact

Source: “The Quest to Extinguish the Flames of Turkmenistan’s Terrifying ‘Gates of Hell’ Firepit” — Smithsonian Magazine