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What are the Slowest Animals in the World?

Everyone knows about the cheetah, the fastest land animal, but there’s not a lot of love put onto the animals who prefer to take their time! Being fast has its survival benefits, but so does moving slowly, particularly in an environment as vast as the oceans.

In this blog, we’re excited to shed some light onto the slowest animals in the world, some of which you can find at Deep Sea World.


What is a starfish?

Starfish are a broad group of animals that all resemble stars of many points – some as many as 40. The Asteroidea class of animals contains approximately 1,600 species.

How fast do they move?

Because there are many species of starfish, they all move at slightly different paces. The slowest starfish that we know move about 6 inches per minute. That is incredibly slow when we consider that the average person walks at 3,168 inches per minute!

Why do they move slowly?

Starfish move so slowly because their legs aren’t responsible for their movement, it’s only their tiny little feet that move them along.

Greenland shark

What is a Greenland shark?

Also known as the grey, ground, gurry or sleeper shark, this species lies in the cold deep waters. It’s found mostly around Greenland but has been known to inhabit the west coast of the Caribbean!

How fast do they move?

The Greenland shark is one of the slowest. It’s scientific name (Somniosus microcephalus) roughly means “sleepy small-head”! They are thought to swim at rates less than 1.9mph.

Why do they move slowly?

Greenland sharks are thought to have a very slow metabolism, which could contribute to their slow movement. It also means they age slowly, which makes sense as the Greenland shark is the world’s longest living vertebrate!

Slugs and Snails

What are slugs and snails?

Slugs and snails belong to the Gastropoda class of animals. They are characterised by their slender, mucus covered bodies that are usually partly hidden in a spiralled shell.

How fast do they move?

Snails and slugs are known for being very slow animals, hence the phrase “a snail’s pace”. They are however faster than a starfish, moving at 31 inches per minute.

Why do they move slowly?

Slugs and snails move slowly because they only have 1 long foot! As well as this, they have very poor eyesight so it’s a good job that they don’t move quicker as they would be bumping into things and hurting themselves all day.


What is a seahorse?

Seahorse is a term used to describe 46 animals that fall into the Hippocampus genus. Their face generally resembles a horse, with their scientific name literally translating to horse (hippo) and sea monster (kampos) in Greek.

How fast do they move?

A seahorse relies primarily on sea currents to move through the water and so travel very slowly at approximately 1 inch per hour!

Why do they move so slowly?

Put simply, a seahorse just isn’t shaped right to be a fast swimmer. Not only are they shaped to be upright in the water, but they also lack the primary fin for propulsion, the tail fin which makes them incredibly slow.


What is a tortoise?

A tortoise is a four-legged, shelled animal that belongs to the Testudinidae class of animals. There are hundreds of species of tortoise in the world, with a few of them being considered critically endangered.

How fast do they move?

Despite their reputation, tortoises are considerably quicker than the other animals on this list, reaching a blistering 656 inches per minute, or 54 feet per minute.

Why do they move so slowly?

Tortoises only eat plants, which do not move, and therefore they have never developed the need to chase after their food. As well as this, they have very heavy shells on their back which will slow them down further.


What is a manatee?

Manatees are large, fully aquatic marine mammals that are actually related to elephants, despite being fully aquatic and resembling a type of seal.  They are sometimes called sea cows.

How fast do they move?

Compared to the other animals on this list, manatees seem like rockets, swimming at approximately 30km/h at their top speed, or 19,685 inches per minute. Generally though, they just float along, something that is rare for an animal of their size.

Why do they move so slowly?

Manatees move so slowly because they aren’t required to be fast. They do not have any natural predators that are quicker than them so they prefer to leisurely swim through the water at their own pace.

You’ve probably got a new appreciation of the slowest animals in the world, and maybe there’s a thing or two you can learn from them, being very relaxed animals!

If you’d like to take a closer look at animals like the star fish, sea snails or sea horse, then book your tickets today for Deep Sea World aquarium!

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