World's slowest animals prove speed isn't everything

Incredible photos show the earth's most sluggish—but maybe most determined—animals on land, air and sea.

By Hannah Lang
Published 29 Mar 2019, 09:59 GMT
Manatees swimming off West Palm Beach, Florida.
Manatees swimming off West Palm Beach, Florida.
Photograph by Sam Farkas, National Geographic Your Shot

While slower animals such as sloths or turtles are famous for their sluggish pace and are unable to outrun hungry animals on the prowl, many slow-moving animals have evolutionary adaptations to avoid predators. Turtles have built-in armour in the form of their iconic shells, and slugs produce an unappetising mucus that no one is eager to gulp down for dinner. 

Unrushed marine animals use similar defences. While manatees only swim at five miles per hour, they are simply too big for any animal to eat. And if an animal were to try, the skin of a manatee is too tough to chew. Greenland sharks swim even slower, at a pace of only 0.76 miles per hour. Luckily, these giant creatures slowly sneak up on their prey while asleep, making a need for speed redundant.


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