Manatee Symbolism & Meaning & the Manatee Spirit Animal [+ Dugong]

Florida ManateeManatee meanings and symbolism include gentleness, non-violence, calm, trust, vulnerability, meditation, transformation, and psychic awareness. In this post, we’ll dive into all aspects of manatee meaning and symbolism, including manatee spiritual meaning and the manatee spirit animal, plus mythology and folklore. This post will also include the manatee’s cousin: the dugong.

Manatee in the Ocean

What does the manatee symbolize?

  • Gentleness
  • Non-Violence
  • Calm
  • Trust
  • Vulnerability
  • Meditation
  • Transformation
  • Psychic Awareness

Manatee Meaning: Gentleness, Non-Violence, and Calm

Manatees and their close cousin, the dugong, make their home in the Caribbean Sea, the Gulf of Mexico, the Atlantic, the waters off of West Africa, and the Amazon River. Throughout their domains, they are known to be calm creatures who float along peacefully, munching on algae and sea plants.

Manatees and dugongs are members of the same order of animals, called Sirena. If that name reminds you of the word “siren” you’re on the right track, as hundreds of years ago, the sailors of old mistook both manatees and dugongs for mermaids.

Pair of ManateesThe manatee and the dugong are symbols of gentleness, calm, and non-violence because they are incredibly mellow creatures. In fact, they are the only marine mammals who are herbivores. So, unlike dolphins, sea lions, whales, and otters, manatees and dugongs are not hunters. This is undoubtedly why they are also referred to as “sea cows,” apart from their large size.

It’s not surprising that manatees are also compared to elephants when it comes to temperament. In fact, the elephant is their closest genetic relative on land.1

So, the spirit of the manatee is an important reminder for us to stay in touch with our own gentle ways. Admittedly, we live in a very competitive and violent world. It’s important that we not allow this world to alter us in negative ways. Because if we lose our ability to be calm and to solve problems with non-violent means, we can lose everything. The manatee spirit animal calls on us to summon our own peaceful natures. Then we in turn can make the world more peaceful.

Trust and Vulnerability

As gentle animals, the manatee also embodies the ability to trust. Learning to trust in new situations or to trust again if we’ve been betrayed can make us feel vulnerable.

In fact, it takes a great deal of courage to trust and to be vulnerable. But if we go through life closed up, believing we can’t trust anyone, we keep ourselves in a type of prison. We may be surviving but we’re not really living. The manatee reminds us to have faith that we’ll be ok. If we make ourselves vulnerable, we will be strong enough to handle it.

An interesting fact about manatees is that alligators always give them the right of way underwater. A soft bump by a manatee will cause the alligator to move aside. Embrace your inner manatee and bump off the fear that comes with vulnerability!

Meditation, Transformation, and Psychic Awareness

Manatees Underwater

When the Earth was formed, all life originated in the water. Some creatures evolved to leave the water and walk on land. Yet, of those who did, a few chose to return to the water. These animals include the manatee, the dugong, and other marine mammals.

Marine mammals, along with semi-aquatic reptiles, such as turtles and alligators, and certain insects, like dragonflies, which are born in the water and then leave it, are all symbols of transformation and psychic awareness.

Symbolically, land represents the conscious mind and the material world. While water represents the subconscious mind and the supernatural world. Animals and insects that move between these two realms remind us of our own ability to transform and to be in touch with the metaphysical world.

This is why the manatee is also a symbol for meditation, transformation, and psychic awareness. They remind us that we can leave the world of our conscious minds and day-to-day affairs to tap into something greater than our Earthly manifestations, which is the divine.

The world can desensitize us, so it’s easy to lose touch with the miraculous. To regain our sensitivities, we must seek out stillness. The manatee floats along, reminding us that we can find this stillness in ourselves. One way to do this is to float in a pool, the ocean, or a bath. Or to listen to music, a fountain, or the sound of the sea. Then, we can more easily find inner calm and get in touch with the metaphysical realm.

Manatees and Mermaids


As we consider how manatee symbolism applies to our lives today, it’s fun to think about what they meant to ancient people. Many historians believe that manatees and dugongs were the inspiration behind mermaids. In fact, Christopher Columbus even wrote in his ship’s log about seeing mermaids:

“On the previous day [8 Jan 1493], when the Admiral went to the Rio del Oro [Haiti], he said he quite distinctly saw three mermaids, which rose well out of the sea; but they are not so beautiful as they are said to be, for their faces had some masculine traits.”
– Christopher Columbus, 7th of January 14932

Could the admiral have been describing manatees from a distance? It seems highly plausible!

Manatee Spirit Animal

Manatee Spirit Animal

When the manatee is your spirit animal, you have been blessed with a soothing spirit guide who can bring calm and tranquility to your life. In addition, you are likely a highly intuitive person who understands that there is far more going on in the world than superficial experiences.

Whether you already know that the manatee is your spirit animal or if one suddenly makes themself known to you in real life, the media, artwork, or elsewhere – it’s important to learn as much as you can about these special beings. In this way, you expand your level of consciousness and gain insights for navigating your soul’s journey in this lifetime.

Our spirit animals form a kinship with us that reminds us of our true natures and that we are all connected. If you are curious about other animals who might also be your spirit guides, you can take UniGuide’s spirit animal quiz in my overview post about spirit animals.

Manatee Power Animal

As the name implies, a power animal can inspire you with their most notable traits. So, if you want to transform an area of your life, mediating on the attributes that the power animal embodies can help you to manifest the changes you seek. For example, you can summon the manatee power animal when you:

  • Need to find peacefulness and tranquility in a chaotic environment or during periods of stress.
  • Want to feel less angry about a situation because the anger feels violent and destructive instead of constructive.
  • Would like to be able to trust others again after going through a period of being hurt or taken advantage of.
  • Want to hone your intuition and expand your psychic abilities.

Manatee Totem Animal

An animal totem encapsulates the protective powers of the animal they represent. So, the manatee totem is a helpful symbol for manifesting more tranquility and tenderness in your life. In addition, the manatee totem is a helpful symbol for expanding your meditation practice and connecting to the divine.

Manatee Dream Meaning

Manatee Mother and Calf

If you dream of a manatee or manatees and you wonder what the dream could be telling you, consider the emotions you felt in your dream, such as joy, fear, worry, or peacefulness. While the reasons animals appear in dreams can vary from person to person, your emotions in the dream is one way your subconscious communicates to your conscious mind. Exploring your emotions in the dream in context to manatee symbolism is a step to elevating your level of consciousness, and thus, a step towards better insights in your life.

Manatees are symbols of tranquility and calm, so an immediate interpretation can mean that your mind is seeking out peacefulness.

I would also like to mention that if you dream of a manatee in distress it could mean that you need to take some action to help protect these animals. I believe that people who are sensitive to animals can pick up on messages the animals send. There are a number of psychics who concur that marine mammals are known to have enhanced psychic abilities and in-tuned people can pick up on what they’re trying to convey.

Manatee Tattoo Meaning

Manatee Tattoo

A manatee tattoo shows the world that you are a gentle, peace-loving person. It can also convey that you are in-tuned with your emotions and psychic abilities. In addition, it can demonstrate that you value biodiversity and manatee protection. Tattoos are deeply personal to each person, but hopefully understanding more about manatee symbolism can bring extra meaning to your tattoo.

How You Can Help Manatees and Dugongs

Manatee and dugong populations are decreasing around the world, and both of these animals are listed as vulnerable by the IUCN.3 Unfortunately, they face a number of threats, all of which are caused by humans. These include habitat loss and degradation, the impacts of climate change, getting caught in fishing nets, collisions with boats, and even harassment by people.4 If you care about these special marine mammals, please do what you can to protect them. Here are some organizations that are working to protect manatees and dugongs:

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Kristen M. Stanton

Hello. Thanks for visiting UniGuide. My name is Kristen and I started UniGuide as a tribute to nature, animals, and spiritual exploration. I hope you enjoy your experience here!