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

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