Seagrasses appear to be a staple of the manatee diet in coastal areas. When feeding in coastal seagrass beds, manatees may either consume virtually the entire plant or consume only the exposed grass blades without disturbing the roots or sediment. Manatees may return to specific seagrass beds to graze on new growth. Favored foods include manatee grass (Syringodium filiforme) and shoalgrass (Halodule wrightii), which may be preferred over the macroalga Caulerpa spp. Along the Florida-Georgia border, manatees feed in salt marshes on smooth cordgrass (Spartina alterniflora) by timing feeding periods with high tide (USFWS 2001 and references therein).
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