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Endangered Animals Theme Unit
Manatee Life



Manatee Life
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 3 to 5
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   3.54

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    grey-brown, raked, grazed, waterway, close, upstream, series, cutting, napping, warning, layer, blubber, pounds, stayed, pleasant, upper


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Manatee Life
By Mary Lynn Bushong
  

1     Hugh stayed close to his mother. Most people would not think she was pretty. Her grey-brown face looked a bit like a walrus's.
 
2     He loved her gentle eyes and her calm messages made up of clicks and chirps. They were manatees, and Hugh thought their lives were great.
 
3     That summer they had stayed near the coast and had grazed on water plants. Hugh admired how much his mother could eat. Each day she could eat more than 100 pounds (45 kg) of sea grass and other plants.
 
4     When he was small, he drank his mother's milk. When he had grown a bit, he began to sample the same foods his mother ate.
 
5     Hugh had no front teeth for cutting through the food, but he had large back teeth to grind it well. Over his life Hugh would eventually have four sets of molars. As they wore down, they would fall out and new ones would grow in.
 
6     Manatees have flexible front flippers to help them steer where they want to go, but they don't help much for getting food. Instead their upper lip is split into two halves. They can use each side almost like fingers to help them eat.
 
7     Hugh's mother finished eating. She rose quickly to the surface and blew out the remaining air in her lungs like a whale would do. Then she took another deep breath.
 
8     Young Hugh did as she did. His lungs were not able to hold as much air, so he had to breathe more often. His nostrils clamped shut when he submerged again.

Paragraphs 9 to 16:
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Endangered Animals Theme Unit
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