Title: Sirenews
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00099157/00027
 Material Information
Title: Sirenews newsletter of the IUCNSSC Sirenia Specialist Group
Alternate Title: Siren news
Physical Description: v. : ; 29 cm.
Language: English
Creator: International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources -- Sirenia Specialist Group
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources -- Sirenia Specialist Group
Publisher: IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group
Place of Publication: Washington D.C
Washington D.C
Publication Date: April 1997
Frequency: two no. a year[apr. 1984-]
Subject: Sirenia -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Marine mammals -- Periodicals   ( lcsh )
Genre: periodical   ( marcgt )
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Additional Physical Form: Also issued via the World Wide Web.
Dates or Sequential Designation: No. 1 (Apr. 1984)-
Issuing Body: Supported 1984-Apr. 1992 by the Species Survival Commission of IUCN, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission; Oct. 1992 by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission & U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; Apr. 1993-Oct. 1994 by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission; <Oct. 1995>- by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission and Sea World, Inc.
General Note: Title from caption.
General Note: Latest issue consulted: No. 48 (Oct. 2007).
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00099157
Volume ID: VID00027
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 35841617
lccn - 2009208704
issn - 1017-3439


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Full Text

Sirenews (ISSN 1017-3439) appears twice a year
in April and October and is edited by Daryl P. Domning,
Department of Anatomy, Howard University, Washington, D.C. 20059 USA
(fax: 1-202-265-7055). It is supported by the U.S. Marine Mammal Commission
and Sea World, Inc.



COLOMBIA (pp. 7, 8)




Members of IUCN attending the World Conservation Congress in Montreal, Canada last
October adopted the following resolution on Threats to Dugong. This resolution gives
additional impetus to the preparation of a global action plan for the conservation of sirenians,
which the Sirenia Specialist Group has been working on now for several years. Amie
Brilutigam (SSC Programme Officer)

Threats to Dugong

AWARE that the dugong (Dugong dugon) is listed as Vulnerable in the IUCN Red List of
Threatened Animals;

NOTING that the largest populations of the species in the world are thought to reside in the
waters of northern Australia and Papua New Guinea;

CONCERNED that there has been a rapid and catastrophic decline in numbers along the

Queensland coastline from Cape Bedford to Hervey Bay, a distance of over 1200 km;

AWARE that researchers have attributed the decline in numbers to drowning in commercial
fishing and shark protection nets, to traditional hunting and, at the southern end of the area, to
decline in the seagrass beds essential for the species;

AWARE that increased tourist resort, marina development and other boating facilities that may
increase the number of boats in and along the Great Barrier Reef and southern Queensland
coast may threaten the dugong population;

ACKNOWLEDGING that along this coast groups of indigenous peoples have voluntarily
ceased hunting of dugong until the population recovers;

ACKNOWLEDGING ALSO that commercial fishers have agreed to undertake a range of
special measures to prevent continuing dugong mortality;

NOTING that the Australian Government has recently allocated special funds to undertake a
dugong recovery plan consisting of a programme of management, education and research
designed to prevent further decline in dugong numbers;

The World Conservation Congress at its 1st Session in Montreal, Canada, 14-23 October

1. CALLS UPON all States with dugong populations to undertake urgent measures to ensure
that all steps are taken to prevent further decline of the species in their country;

2. CALLS UPON the Chair of the Species Survival Commission to request the Sirenia
Specialist Group to complete and promote the implementation of the Sirenia Action Plan,
with special reference to the status of the dugong;

3. CALLS UPON the Director General to write to all governments of States with dugong
populations, including the Australian Government, expressing concern and:

a) urging that an ongoing programme of funding be provided for full implementation of
Operative Paragraph 1;

b) urging that coastal tourist resorts and marina developments be restricted to locations
that do not threaten the dugong populations along the Great Barrier Reef and southern
Queensland coastline.

Note: The use of the term "indigenous peoples" in this Recommendation shall not be
construed as having any implications as regards the rights which may attach to that term in
international law.


In 1991 Dr. Paul K. Anderson proposed a revision of sirenian popular names and
suggested introducing the name "sea pig" instead of "sea cow" for the dugong [see Sirenews
No. 16]. He also referred to the fact that in Sri Lanka the dugong is called "cudalpandi" in
Sinhalese and "kadalpani" in Tamil, both of which translate as "sea pig". During my five
years' fieldwork on dugongs in Indonesia I also came across the names "babi laout" in Malay
and "sakoko ka koat" in the local language of the Siberut islanders, both of which mean "sea
pig". In the Indonesian Dictionary Purwadanuda the dugong is called "babi duyung", which
means "piggy dugong". Local fishermen in Thailand similarly use a word which translates as
"sea pig". After Anderson's article, however, the discussion of this subject did not continue,
and I found among members of the Sirenia Specialist Group little enthusiasm for debating the
vernacular-name issue.
I do think that this issue deserves more attention than it has received so far, since it
touches upon the heart of the feeding ecology of the dugong and its niche in the seagrass
ecosystem. Even more important, a change in popular name may have a positive spinoff for
dugong conservation, particularly in the regions where "pig meat" is a religious taboo. Apart
from this we should pay some respect to the knowledge of local people; there is no place for
arrogance here. It is remarkable that all these local fisherfolk in different countries and even
different regions within countries all refer to the dugong as "the pig of the sea".
When giving a closer look to the feeding ecology of the dugong, their approach is not as
strange as it seems at first sight:
Anderson already mentioned that dugongs, like pigs, are "rooters" and not "grazers" and
are referred to as rhizome specialists, which is also confirmed by my research findings in the
Moluccas (De Iongh, 1996). The way they remove the substrate is more similar to the rooting
behavior of pigs than the grazing behavior of cows and other grazers.
Anderson mentions that dugongs are, like pigs, omnivorous; they both feed on
macroinvertebrates. Dugongs are known (like pigs) to dig circular craters in search of burrowing
I would like to add that dugongs, like pigs, are able to digest feed with a high fiber content.
Murray (1981) suggests that dugongs are able to use up to 25% of the fiber fraction for energy,
while pigs use 35% of the fiber fraction for energy (Van Wieren, 1996).
I think, therefore, that there are some very strong arguments for adopting the popular
name "sea pig" for the dugong, with regard to both its feeding ecology and the expected

positive conservation impact of such a name change. I would like to appeal to readers of
Sirenews to write me at the address below if they agree or disagree and if they have found
local names in their region (any local name is welcome, be it "pig" or "cow").


De Iongh, H.H. 1996. Plant-herbivore interactions between seagrasses and dugongs in a
tropical small island ecosystem. Ph.D. thesis, Catholic University, Nijmegen, The
Netherlands: 205 pp.
Murray, R.M. 1981. The importance of VFA in dugong nutrition. In: H. Marsh (ed.). The
dugong. Proceedings of a seminar/workshop ... 8-13 May 1979. Ed. 2. Dept. of Zoology,
James Cook Univ. N. Qld.: 94-95.
Van Wieren, S.E. 1996. Digestive strategies in ruminants and nonruminants. Ph.D. thesis,
Agricultural University, Wageningen, The Netherlands: 191 pp.

- Hans De longh (Roghorst 343, 6708 KX Wageningen, Holland; fax/tel. 31-317-424599)


In Sirenews No. 24 (October 1995) we published a set of safety recommendations for
personnel conducting aerial surveys. The following Spanish translation of these has been
furnished by the Sirenia Project, Gainesville, Florida.

Reglas de Seguridad para Censos Aereos de Manaties

Los censos aereos de manaties presentan un peligro especial para los biologos haciendo el
censo debido a los aeroplanos pequefios que se usan normalmente (se pueden sobrecargar
facilmente), el novel de vuelo relativamente bajo (generalmente 500 pies), los virajes cerrados
que se hacen frecuentemente para contar manatis (puede ocasionar stalling) y las rutas de vuelo
sobre agua. A veces la dedicaci6de los biologos puede tornarse en un peligro si la determinaci6n
para terminar una misi6n intervene con su juicio referente a las condiciones del tiempo, la
capacidad de su piloto y las condiciones del aeroplano. A continuaci6n se enumeran una series
de reglas de sentido comun para el personal envuelto en censos aereos de manaties. Estas no
pretenden abarcarlo todo sino destacar algunos aspects de las regulaciones provistas por la
Oficina de Servicios de Aeroplanos (OAS por sus siglas en ingles), las cuales deben ser
acatadas por todos los empleados del Departamento de Interior (DOI por sus siglas en ingl6s)
en los Estados Unidos cuando participan en un trabajo relacionado a la aviaci6n.

Se le agradece a la Sra. Burma Campbell del Servicio de Pezca y Vida Silvestre de los E.
U. por proveer la informaci6n utilizada para desarrollar estas reglas, por revisarlas y por su
interns y apollo constant.

* El aeroplano Cessna 172 no tiene suficiente poder para un vuelo de bajo nivel (menos de
500 pies). Durante misiones de bajo nivel el aeroplano no puede funcionar legitimamente con
una carga certificada mayor (aeroplano, pasajeros, combustible, cargamento) a la recomendada
por el fabricante. Si se planifica llevar mas de dos observadores se recomienda un Cessna 182,
185 6 206.

* Los censos nunca deben hacerse a una altitude menor de 500 pies. Muchos biologos
prefieren una altitude de 750 pies para dar vueltas y contar manaties en grupos. Bajo la political
de aviaci6n del DOI la tripulaci6n del aeroplano no debe volar bajo 500 pies sin un
entrenamiento especial y equipo protector personal.

* Debe conocer la capacidad de su piloto. ,Cuantas horas de vuelo tiene de experiencia el piloto,
con el aeroplano en el que se estard como pasajero? Las regulaciones del OAS piden 1000 horas
de tiempo de vuelo para certificar a un piloto.

* Debe conocer el registro de servicio de su aeroplano. La political de aviacio6 del DOI exige
que un aeroplano reciba servicio e inspecci6n cada 100 horas de tiempo de vuelo.

* Prepare una lista de lo que Va/No va y revisela antes de cada vuelo. Recuerde que a pesar
de que el piloto tiene la ultima palabra en la desici6n de cancelar el vuelo. Si usted tiene
alguna duda a cerca del tiempo, el piloto o el aeroplano, canceled el vuelo. Usted es much mas
important que un censo que se pierda! Ademas, todos los censos se deben hacer bajo
condiciones 6ptimas de tiempo para poder comparar con censos hechos en otras fechas;
tiempo dudoso equivale a resultados de censo dudosos. Si ocurren cambios en el tiempo, el
piloto o la condici6n fisica o mental del observador, el observador debe cancelar la misi6n y
dedir al piloto que regrese a la base o a tierra en el lugar mas propicio, dependiendo de cuin
drdstico ha sido el cambio en las condiciones del vuelo.

* Prepare un plan de vuelo y d6selo al personal entierra que esta en el aeropuerto de donde
su vuelo despega y terminal. La(s) persona(s) a quien usted le d& el plan serd respnsable de
seguir la trayectoria del vuelo y establecerd los procedimientos de busqueda y rescate en caso
de que su aeroplano no llegue a su destino luego de una hora del tiempo estimado de llegada.

* S61o el cargamento y los pasajeros que sean esenciales para la misi6n deben ir en el
aeroplano. Esto no s6lo elimina la posibilidad de que se accident algo que no debia estar a
bordo, sino que tambien mantiene el peso del aeroplano en el minimo y por lo tanto usa menos

combustible y reduce los costs. Los biologos deben tener cuidado en aseguarar los utensilios
que se utilizan a menudo como: lapices, boligrafos, lentes de camara, cubiertas de lentes, royos
de pelicula, grabadoras, etc.

* La political de DOI exige que el piloto est6 present para supervisor el tipo, contidad y calidad
del combustible utilizado en el aeroplano cuando se esta repostando combustible. En EU han
ocurrido desastres aereos debido a reabastecimiento err6neo en donde combustible para jet se le
ha puesto accidentalmente a un aeroplano de motor alterno.

* Si un aeroplano unimotor se va a utilizar a una distancia de la orilla mas alla de la que se
puede recorrer planeando sin necesidad del motor, el aeroplano debe tener equipo de flotaci6n y
todas las personas a bordo deben tener su propio equipo de flotaci6n.

* Los bi6logos que tienen misiones de vuelo regulars podrian beneficiarse de un curso de
familiarizaci6n de vuelo que consiste de 4 horas de teoria y 4 horas de entranamiento a6reo (el
conso es aproximadamente $500.00). El mismo pretend darle a los pasajeros un conocimiento
limitado de como manejar los controls, radios, etc...del aeroplano y de como aterrizar el
aeroplano en caso de una emergencia en donde el piloto se encuentre incapacitado.

Comentarios sobre 6stas regulaciones son bienvenidos. Si desea ayudar en traducirlas a
algun otro idioma puede comunicarse conmigo. Si desea ejemplos de una lista Va/No va o de un
plan de vuelo o informaci6n sobre de familiarizaci6n de vuelo por favor comuniquese con: Dr.
Lynn Lefebvre, Sirenia Project, U.S. Geological Survey Biological Resources Division,
412 NE 16th Avenue, Room 250, Gainesville, FL 32601 USA; telefono: (352) 372-2571;
fax: (352) 374-8080; Internet: sirenia@nervm.nerdc.ufl.edu


The VII Congreso de la Asociacion Latinoamericana de Zoologicos y Acuarios will be held in
the city of Puebla, Mexico, 16-21 April 1997. The theme of the congress is "La Nueva
Gestion de los Zoologicos para la Conservacion" (New Conservation Efforts by Zoos). For
information, contact Fernando Pacheco M., 11 Oriente 2407, Col. Azcarate, Puebla, Puebla,
CP 72007 Mexico (tel. 52-22-358713, 358718, 358700, fax 52-22-358607, e-mail


A joint meeting of The Nutrition Society, The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland,

and the British Federation of Zoos will be held on 16-18 May 1997 at the Edinburgh Zoo,
Scotland. The theme is "Nutrition of Wild and Captive Wild Animals." For further
information, contact Mr. Rodney Warwick, The Nutrition Society, 10 Cambridge Court,
210 Shepherds Bush Road, London W6 7NJ, U.K.; tel.: +44 171 602 0228; fax: +44 171 602
1756; e-mail: 100672.2151@compuserve.com


The International Summer School in Zoo Animal Behaviour & Welfare will be held this
year on 7-18 July 1997 at the Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland. This is a 10-day course in current
scientific theory and its application to husbandry, management, and welfare of zoo animals.
For further information, contact Hamish Macandrew, UnivEd Technologies Ltd, UnivEd
Training & Conference Centre, 11 South College Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AA, Scotland, UK
(fax +44(0) 131 650 9019, e-mail Hamish.Macandrew@ed.ac.uk)


Copies of UNEP's Regional Management Plan for the West Indian Manatee (Caribbean
Environment Programme Technical Report No. 35) are still available from UNEP at 14-20
Port Royal Street, Kingston, Jamaica (tel.: 809-922-9267 to 9; fax: 809-922-9292; e-mail:
uneprcuja@toj.com). The report is available in English, French, and Spanish; please specify
which languages) you want.


The landmark multiauthored volume entitled "Population Biology of the Florida Manatee" (T.
J. O'Shea, B.B. Ackerman, and H.F. Percival, eds., National Biological Service Information
and Technology Report 1, 289 pp., 1995) is still available at no cost. For copies write:
Sirenia Project, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Caribbean Science Center, 412 NE 16th
Ave.-Rm. 250, Gainesville, FL 32601 (e-mail: sirenia@nersp.nerdc.ufl.edu) OR Tom
O'Shea, U.S. Geological Survey, Midcontinent Ecological Science Center, 4512 McMurry
Ave., Fort Collins, CO 80525-3400 (e-mail: Tom_O'Shea@nbs.gov).


Dan Odell has kindly posted the text of Sirenews No. 26 on the Society for Marine

Mammalogy's web site, and will do so with the present and future issues as well. Go to
; the Sirenews link is near the bottom of the first page.
These posted versions of the newsletter will not include the illustrative material or most
abstracts that appear in the hard-copy editions, since these items are printed from camera-ready
copy rather than digitized. If you nonetheless find that the Internet versions are adequate for
your needs and you no longer wish to receive the hard copies, please notify me so that I can
delete you from the mailing list and save on printing and postage. DPD



"Emergency" Measures to Increase
Dugong Protection in the Southern Great
Barrier Reef? Readers of Sirenews will be
aware of the serious decline in dugong
numbers along a 2000-km stretch of the east
coast of Queensland. Aerial surveys of the
more urbanized and intensively fished
southern Great Barrier Reef indicate that
dugong numbers declined by more than 50%
between 1986/87 and 1994. Dugong
numbers in Hervey Bay-Great Sandy Strait
immediately south of the Great Barrier Reef
region also declined by more than 50% after
the loss of >1000 km2 of seagrass habitat in
Last November, the Great Barrier
Reef Ministerial Council considered the
issue. This council is composed of the
national and Queensland (state) ministers of
the Environment, Primary Industries, and
Tourism. The Council confirmed that
urgent action is required to ensure the
recovery of the dugong population in the
Great Barrier Reef and adjacent waters and
agreed that a chain of interim "Dugong
Protection Areas" should be established along
this coast in key dugong habitats at

approximately 200-km intervals. They also
endorsed other measures for dugong
recovery and conservation, including
measures to reduce the likelihood of dugongs
drowning in commercial fishing nets or being
injured by underwater explosives.
Little has changed. Mesh netting has
so far been banned in only one area,
Shoalwater Bay. This bay is the most
important dugong habitat along this coast. It
has been protected from many anthropogenic
activities by its status as a Military
Training Area; however, the use of underwater
explosives is still permitted at one site in
this bay. Last month, the large-scale US-
Australian military exercise Tandem Thrust
was held in the vicinity of this bay.
The effectiveness of these "Dugong
Protection Areas" will depend on the political
will to exclude mesh netting, control boating
activity, reduce inputs from agriculture, and
control coastal development, and the support
of Indigenous groups to maintain their
moratoria on traditional hunting in this
region. So far, the Indigenous peoples have
been by far the most cooperative stakeholder
group. Given that their association with
dugongs goes back thousands of years, they
understandably consider they have the most
to lose by the extinction of dugongs along
this coast. Helene Marsh


Manatee Poaching Continues in
Belize. We at the Belize Center for
Environmental Studies (BCES) are in the
process of writing a management plan for
the proposed Port Honduras Marine
Protected Area. To become more

familiar with this area, in particular
the banks between the Snake Cayes, I
visited the area in October 1996.
I set out by boat for the banks off East
Snake Caye with Larry Sauliner, our
Peace Corps Environmental Educator, and
his wife, a Rural Development Officer
and also a Peace Corps volunteer.
After about 40 minutes' travel north
along the coast from Punta Gorda Town,
we arrived in the Deep River area. I then
said that if we saw vultures we should
investigate what they were eating, because
there was a rumor around town that the
Guatemalans were over here killing
manatees. By the time I finished saying this,
Ms. Sauliner pointed out some vultures.
We approached the shoreline where
the vultures were. Entering the
mangroves, we found the remains of five
recently-slaughtered manatees. The skulls
were cracked, apparently with a
hammer or other metal tool. The persons
responsible had cared only for the prime
parts; there was lots of decayed meat on
the bones, and the fins and skins were all
there. Some of the skulls were of adult size
and some were juveniles.
Continuing our journey, less than five
minutes away we saw more vultures.
This time there were four freshly
slaughtered manatees. Again, the prime
meat had been stripped off and the other
meat left to rot.
I have no proof of the rumor that the
meat from these manatees is going to
Guatemala. However, I am in the field
almost every day and have never seen or
heard of manatee meat for sale in Belize;
but I have had people confirm to me

that they have bought the meat in
Ten minutes from the butchering site
are some offshore cayes where fishermen
camp. These fishermen are mostly
Guatemalans who have valid Belizean
fishing licenses. The fishermen at these
cayes have no regard for Belizean laws or
the environment. I have not seen them
killing manatees but I have seen them
setting their gillnets at the mouths of
rivers and on some of our reefs, which is
illegal in Belize.
As a concerned Belizean citizen and
BCES employee, I have informed the
appropriate government ministries, and am
calling on them, on community groups,
and on the NGO community to come
together and discuss ways to resolve this
problem. I also believe it is important to
call upon our neighbors from Guatemala
and ask them to assist us in dealing with
this urgent situation.
About a year ago BCES facilitated the
visits of two scientists from the USA, who
found approximately 11 butchering sites
and an estimated 35 manatee kills [see
Sirenews No. 24]. The result was a press
release; but to date nothing has been done
except lots of promises from some donors
and a few pamphlets received from the
Florida Power and Light Company.
Meanwhile, discussions have begun with
the Punta Gorda Town Police Department
and the Fisheries Department. In the near
future we will meet with the Toledo
Community College Environmental Club,
local fishermen, Toledo Tour Guide
Association, and other organizations to
discuss the possibility of volunteer patrols in

the area.
At this time BCES has no money for this
kind of activity. However, BCES has
volunteered to lend its boat for
patrolling the waters. Before the patrols can
take place, we need money for fuel, hand
radios to call for support or help in case
of emergencies, binoculars, spotlights,
batteries, camping equipment (including
tents, hammocks, or sleeping cots,
portable stoves, etc.), and some rain gear.
We believe that much of the poaching takes
place on rainy nights. Wil Maheia (Field
Specialist, BCES, P. 0. Box 150, corner of
Front Street & Wahima Alley, Punta Gorda,
Belize; e-mail: pgwil@btl. net)


Manatee Poaching Deplored in
Colombia. Hans de Iongh sent an article
from the Bogota newspaper El Tiempo (9
Feb. 1997) that describes an instance of
manatee poaching and discusses
manatee status in the province of
Santander. Excerpts follow:
MANATEE. A group of fishermen
clubbed to death four of six manatees
remaining in the El Llanito marsh, in
Santander.... Sixteen fishermen corraled
and killed [the] four manatees, including
a cow and calf, to obtain two tons of meat,
in what many regard as the worst
ecological tragedy of recent times in this
part of the country.
"According to the director of the
Colombian Institute of Fisheries and
Aquaculture (INPA) in Barrancabermeja,
Pedro Julian Contreras, there were only

six manatees in the marsh.
"The manatee was once abundant in
the rivers, marshes, and mangroves of the
warm parts of the country, principally
on the Caribbean coast and the lower
and middle Magdalena River. In the latter
region, which supposedly had the largest
natural concentration of manatees in
Colombia, there are today only 35. There
are also some in Magangu6 (Bolivar).
"These animals are hunted mainly
for their meat, whose taste can be
mistaken for that of bacon, turkey,
cattle, chicken, or bagre [a freshwater
fish], according to the part it comes from....
"According to witnesses, the fishermen
ensnared the manatees with nets, which
took them almost half a day. Then they
killed them and held a manatee roast in the
village that was attended by more than
100 people, including the police inspector
of the town, who is being investigated by
the authorities. The leftover meat was sold
to fishmongers.
"Paradoxically, in the opinion of the
experts, the manatee is the fishermen's
best friend, since it helps preserve the fauna
of the places where it lives, including the
fish. Its ecological and economic
importance is directly proportional to its
gluttony.... If the manatees are
exterminated, [floating plants] grow to
excess, impede the passage of light, and
kill off microscopic algae that produce
oxygen. This ... reduces fishery production,
which harms the very fisherman who
contributes to the manatee's demise.
"Public prosecutors and local
environmental officials have begun an
investigation of the poachers. The head of

the Magdalena Valley Fishermen's
Association, Pablo Emilio Tejada, pointed
out that the killing of these animals serves
to discredit the fishing community, which
has benefited from programs to restock
fish in the marshes. The Regional
Autonomous Corporation of Santander
(CAS) asked the El Llanito law-
enforcement community to economically
sanction the criminals and cancel their
fishing licenses, [or even impose] a penal
sanction, which could vary from fines to 1-
5 years in prison, under the laws in force.
"While the few surviving manatees in El
Llanito are being slaughtered, the
inhabitants of ... Sabana de Torres and
Puerto Wilches, in Santander, offer
protection and food to 20 manatees that live
in the Paredes marsh...."


Disastrous Year for Florida Manatees. -
1996 was the worst year on record for
manatee mortality in Florida, even without
the spring die-off on the west coast due to red
tide. The total number of dead manatees
recovered was 415 (nearly twice the previous
record), of which 151 were attributed to the
red tide outbreak. The remaining 264
exceeded the previous single-year (1990)
mortality of 214 by almost 25%; the total
1995 mortality was 201. The 264 non-red
tide deaths broke down by cause of death
as follows: watercraft, 60; flood gates/
canal locks, 10; perinatal, 55; cold stress, 17;
other natural, 28; undetermined, 82; verified
but unrecovered carcasses, 12. The 60
watercraft-related deaths also beat the
previous record of 53, set in 1991.

A February aerial survey of the state
counted 2,639 manatees, the highest number
recorded to date. Of these, 1,182 were on
Florida's west coast; by the end of the year
283 (24%) of these had been confirmed dead.
- (Source: Florida Department of
Environmental Protection)

Progress in Reintroduction of Captive
Manatees, April 1996-March 1997. -
Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Staging Area: The manatee acclimation pens
in the upper Banana River were not used
in 1996 because the submerged aquatic
vegetation (SAV; seagrass and algae)
disappeared from the pens during fall and
winter, 1995-1996. The loss of vegetation
was definitely not caused by the few
manatees that were held in the pens during
the summers of 1994 and 1995; the unused
"control" pen also lost all vegetative cover.
The dominant seagrasses in the Banana
River for at least 10-15 years prior to
1995 have been Halodule wrightii (shoal
grass) and Syringodium filiforme (manatee
grass). A long-term decline in salinity,
from about 28 ppt in summer 1994, to 18
ppt in summer 1995, to 10 ppt in summer
1996, apparently killed the Syringodium in
the upper Banana River, as recent
vegetation surveys indicate it is
relatively scarce in areas it once
dominated (J. Provancha, Dynamac
Corp., pers. comm.), including in the
acclimation pens.
Sirenia Project and Dynamac Corp.
personnel mapped SAV species
composition and estimated SAV density in
the acclimation pens and in a nearby
reference plot during the summers of

1994-1996. This research documented the
disappearance of Syringodium and most of
the Halodule wrightii (shoal grass) both
inside and outside the pens. It also
documented the replacement of the latter
species by Ruppia maritima (widgeon grass)
outside the pens during the spring and
summer of 1996.
The inability of Ruppia to establish itself
inside the pens may be indicative of how
this species spreads its seeds: by direct
deposit in an established bed; by
wildlife that eats Ruppia, such as
manatees, coots, and ducks, which cannot
or do not use the pens; and via drifting
plants with seeds attached, which would
also tend to be excluded from the pens.
Seeds that do make it into a pen (some were
deliberately introduced by researchers)
may not produce viable offspring in the
fine, unconsolidated sediment layer
that has accumulated in the absence of
stabilizing seagrass rhizomes. Most of the
pen fencing was removed in early
January 1997 to encourage the regrowth
of seagrasses. When vegetation again
becomes established, the U.S. Fish &
Wildlife Service plans to continue use of
the acclimation pens as a temporary
staging site for captive-reared manatees
prior to their reintroduction to estuarine
and marine environments.
Direct Release of Doc and Dakota in
Biscayne Bay: On 20 August 1996, "Doc,"
a captive-born male manatee reared
at Homosassa Springs State Park,
and "Dakota," an orphaned male reared
at Sea World, were released at the
Cutler Power Plant in Deering Bay, on
the west side of Biscayne Bay, Dade

County, Florida. Both manatees were
fitted at the release site with satellite-
monitored transmitter assemblies by Bob
Bonde, Sirenia Project. These 4-year old
males are sexually mature, and were
prepared for their release through staging
at the Merritt Island National Wildlife
Refuge staging area last summer. Following
recommendations made at the March 1996
Interagency/Oceanaria meeting, Sea World
personnel added seagrasses to the diet of
these long-term captives from April 1996
up to their release in August. After his
release, Dakota began almost immediately
to explore his new surroundings, leaving
behind Doc, who was reluctant to leave
shallow water. These different responses
to release mirrored Doc and Dakota's
behavior in the staging area last summer:
Dakota more quickly "took" to his new
environment, which Doc initially
preferred the shallow end of the pen, and
took longer to feed on natural vegetation.
Dakota made his first exploratory
venture out of Deering Bay 2 days after
his release, while Doc stayed in Deering
Bay for over a week after his release.
Heather Smith, a Sirenia Project
volunteer who helped with observations
of manatees at the staging area in July-
September 1995, and Kevin Mayo, a
biologist with the Dade County
Department of Environmental Resources
Management, have radio-tracked and
observed Doc and Dakota as they adjusted
to their new environment.
Post-release Assessments: Dakota was
recaptured along with another adult
male manatee on 29 October 1996 (2
months, 9 days after release), at Convoy

Point in South Biscayne Bay. Sea World
personnel, directed by Bob Wagoner,
captured the manatees in shallow water
using their 24-ft net boat. Drs. Mark
Lowe (Homosassa Springs State Park),
Sam Dover (Sea World), and Mike
Renner (Miami Seaquarium) assessed
Dakota's overall physical condition and took
blood samples for further analysis. Bob
Bonde took blubber thickness
measurements using an ultrasonic
scanner. Umbilical, anal, and peduncle
blubber layers were reduced by 40%,
27%, and 5%, respectively. While these
values seem high, the actual blubber
values were at or above the average
values for an independent male manatee.
Long-term captive manatees typically have
much more fat than wild ones, and
dramatic fat and weight loss following
release are to be expected. Dakota's
abdomen was round, showing no sign of
longitudinal folds, and feces passed
looked normal. Some serious atrophy
was indicated externally in his
shoulder region. Dakota was released on
site. Results of Dakota's blood sample
analysis indicated elevated creatinine
and BUN values. However, veterinarians
consider these values acceptable due to
expected fat layer reduction.
Doc was net-captured on 21 November
1996 (3 months after release), in Coral
Gables Waterway off Biscayne Bay,
Miami. Drs. Mark Lowe and Mike Renner
assessed his general condition, and
determined that he appeared to be in
even better shape than Dakota, with
little external sign of serious atrophy.
Reductions in his dorsal blubber layer

were 54% (umbilical), 31% (anal), and
35% pedunclee), and actual values were at
or above average values for an
independent male manatee. He was
released on site. Doc's blood creatinine
level was normal (2.3 mg/dl), and other
routinely evaluated blood parameters
were generally within normal ranges.
Doc's total cholesterol level was high
relative to other manatees (403 mg/dl),
which is consistent with his values from
Sea World of Florida personnel, led by
Bob Wagoner, recaptured Dakota and Doc
on 24 and 25 March 1997, respectively.
Dakota was captured just south of Black
Point in Biscayne Bay, and Doc was caught
in Indian Camp Creek, Everglades
National Park. Everglades National Park
(ENP) and Dade County personnel
assisted in the captures. Sirenia Project
personnel made ultrasonic measurements
of blubber thickness, took girth
measurements and fecal samples, and
fitted both manatees with new satellite-
monitored transmitter assemblies.
While both manatees have continued to
lose fat, both have umbilical fat and girth
measurements at least as great as their
last assessment, both are clearly feeding,
and both were determined to be in good
overall condition by Sea World
veterinarian Sam Dover. They were
released on site less than an hour after
capture. Another reassessment will
probably not be necessary for another 6
months, the conservative life of the
transmitter batteries.
Highlights of Field Observations:
While Dakota fell in quickly with other

manatees that appear to travel
routinely among various freshwater
sources on Biscayne Bay between
Homestead Bayfront Park and Coral
Gables Waterway, Doc initially had a
much smaller range in northern Biscayne
Bay and typically was observed to be
alone. Doc moved from the Coral Gables
Waterway, on the southeast coast, to the
southwest coast of Florida between the end
of November and mid-December 1996.
On 3 December, he was observed in two
canals in the Homestead area of Biscayne
Bay; on one of these occasions, he
appeared to be traveling with another
manatee. On 6 December he was seen in
a canal at the south end of Manatee Bay,
and by 13 December, his satellite-
determined location was just off of Cape
Sable. He then moved north to Indian
Camp Creek, where he has been since mid-
December. This almost-freshwater creek
extends far inland, and contains abundant
submerged vegetation, predominantly
water celery (Vallisneria sp.). On the 8
occasions Doc has been closely observed
between 15 January and 25 March, he has
been by himself. Skip Snow, an ENP
ecologist, noted that his aerial surveys have
shown manatees to be common in this
region of the Park, although the surveys
do not include Indian Camp Creek. Skip
plans to do some aerial tracking to determine
if other manatees are using the creek.
Both of these captive-reared manatees
have succeeded in finding suitable manatee
habitat in very different locations. Kevin
Mayo, Dade County Environmental
Resources Management, and Skip Snow,
ENP, will assist the Sirenia Project in

making periodic checks on Doc's and
Dakota's progress. Heather Smith's
excellent assistance was greatly
appreciated; she completed her tour of duty
with the Sirenia Project on 28 March and
returned to Canada. She is currently
seeking research experience opportunities
with other marine mammals.
Florida Marine Research Institute
Highlights: Leslie Ward and Beth Wright
report that systematic recaptures of two long-
term captive manatees, Graham and
Valentine, provided an opportunity to
monitor the success of manatee
reintroduction into natural habitat.
Graham, a 5-yr-old female, and
Valentine, a 4-yr-old male, were released
without staging into Whitewater Bay,
Everglades National Park, in September
1995. Evaluation techniques included
documentation of travel patterns and
habitat use via telemetry, monitoring of
blood parameters, and morphometric
measurements including girths and the non-
invasive measurement of blubber thickness
using ultrasound After a year and a half of
monitoring, reintroduction seems to be
successful based upon habitat use,
observed association with other manatees,
and gross body appearance. Blubber
thickness measured at three standardized
body sites decreased at each successive
evaluation; however, the decrease in values
was expected because captive manatees
typically have thicker blubber than free-
ranging ones. Graham has primarily stayed
in Whitewater Bay, while Valentine has
made extensive moves along the
southwest coast to Everglades City,
periodically returning to Whitewater Bay.

Graham and Valentine will continue to be
monitored until morphometric measurements
Recommendations: 1) Other direct
releases of captive-born and captive-reared
manatees in South Florida should be
2) The cost of constructing and managing
a soft-release program should be compared
with the cost of direct releases with follow-up
3) A cooperative agreement should be
developed among the cooperating agencies to
better coordinate release decisions, post-
release monitoring activities, and
responsibilities for collecting, analyzing, and
publishing data related to the captive
reintroduction program Lynn Lefebvre
(Sirenia Project, Florida Caribbean Science
Center, U.S. Geological Survey -
Biological Resources Division, Gainesville,
FL 32601)

It's Great to Have Friends! In the
October 1995 issue of Sirenews, a dramatic
headline announced "U.S. SIRENIA
EXTINCTION." At the time, the
situation seemed that dire, as our budget had
been cut 24%, and the agency to which
the Project belonged (the National
Biological Service) really was becoming
extinct. I am happy to report that not only
did the Sirenia Project survive, but things
are truly looking up since our transfer to the
U.S. Geological Survey in October 1996. As
of I October, the NBS was replaced by
the Biological Resources Division (BRD),
one of four USGS Divisions. The Project
also became part of a new center, the Florida

Caribbean Science Center, headquartered in
Gainesville, Florida. Dr. Russ Hall
became the Center's Director in January
1997. Dr. Denny Fenn is Director of the
USGS-BRD, and Dr. Sue Haseltine is
Director of the Southeast Region of the BRD.
The USGS has a long history of collaborative
research with other federal, state, and local
partners. I strongly believe that the mission
of the Sirenia Project, to provide information
vital to the long-term recovery of the West
Indian manatee, requires such collaborative
All of us at the Sirenia Project are
extremely grateful to the many colleagues
and partners who helped us through a
traumatic year. We deeply appreciated the
letters of support that came in from around
the world. Special thanks go to the Save
the Manatee Club and an anonymous
donor for their generous and timely
donations. Thank you! Lynn Lefebvre
[EDITOR'S NOTE: A long-term radio-
tracking study of the Sirenia Project's
movements through the bureaucracy of the
U.S. Department of the Interior has so far
traced it from the Fish and Wildlife Service
through the National Biological Survey and
National Biological Service to the Geological
Survey. However, individual satellite tags
attached to Lynn and her coworkers have
revealed the curious fact that their home
ranges have remained unaltered throughout
these administrative peregrinations; they
can still be regularly observed in their same
old offices in Gainesville. We are delighted
to know that this free-ranging project is still
in good overall condition despite its
reduced blubber thickness and severe
recent stress, and we hope that supplemental

feedings will eventually bring it back up
to its proper weight. Meanwhile, we trust
that its new habitat in the Geological
Survey will induce it to finally venture into
sirenian paleontology!]

An Evaluation of Strip-transect Aerial
Survey Methods for Monitoring Manatee
Populations in Florida. We evaluated the
use of replicated strip-transect aerial surveys
to estimate manatee population size in the
Banana River, Florida, an important warm-
season refuge for manatees. Our objectives
were (1) to estimate manatee population size;
(2) to correct for perception bias by applying
a Petersen mark-recapture model to counts
made by two independent observers; and (3)
to evaluate the usefulness of this survey
method for detecting trends in manatee
population size over time.
Fifteen replicate surveys were conducted
in A iigust-September 1993 andA ugust 1994.
A total of 531 individuals belonging to 248
manatee groups was counted, for a mean
group size of 2.14. Survey-specific
correction factors for perception bias (the
proportion of manatees that is visible
within the strip-transect but is missed by
observers) averaged 1.12. Compared with
a conventional single-observer aerial
survey, the doubled-observer technique
increased the number of manatee groups by
22% due to the second observer and by 33%
when the double counts were corrected by the
Petersen model.
Corrected population estimates of the
160-km2 strip-transect survey area ranged
from 113 to 240 manatees. In estimating
mean annual population size, we excluded the
final survey of 1993 because it coincided

with the first cold-front of the season. Mean
population size differed between years (1993:
125 manatees; 1994: 179 manatees; P <
0.024). Precision of annual population
estimates was high (CV < 0.05), indicating
that the technique should be useful for
monitoring purposes in the Banana River.
Power analysis software for linear
regression was used to demonstrate that
with the stringent assumptions of CV =
0.05 and power = 0.75, we should be able to
detect an annual rate of change (r) = 0.05
within 4 years. This study represents the
first attempt to use replicated strip-transect
aerial surveys to estimate manatee
population size. The survey technique
presented here is an improvement over
past attempts to estimate absolute manatee
abundance, because it is a repeatable,
standardized survey design that produces
population estimates with known precision.
However, application of the strip-transect
survey technique to other areas in Florida
during summer may be limited because of
excessive water depths, water turbidity,
and other environmental features typical of
manatee habitats. Despite these limitations,
we recommend that managers use warm-
season transect surveys in the Banana River
in conjunction with other datasets to
determine if manatee population size on the
east coast of Florida is increasing. Karl
E. Miller (Florida Cooperative Fish and
Wildlife Research Unit, Univ. of Florida,
Gainesville; current address: Dept. of
Wildlife Ecology & Conservation, P.O.
Box 110430, Univ. of Florida, Gainesville,
FL 32611, USA), Bruce B. Ackerman
(Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection,
Florida Marine Research Institute, St.

Petersburg, FL 33701), Lynn W. Lefebvre
(Sirenia Project, U.S. Geological Survey-
Biological Resources Division, Gainesville,
FL 32601), and Kari B. Clifton (Florida
Dept. of Environmental Protection, Florida
Marine Research Institute, St. Petersburg, FL

Phylogeography of the West Indian
Manatee: How Many Populations and
How Many Taxa? In order to resolve the
genetic population structure and
biogeography of the West Indian manatee
(Trichechus manatus), mitochondrial (mt)
DNA control region sequences were
compared among eight locations across the
western Atlantic region. Fifteen haplotypes
were identified among 87 individuals from
Florida, Puerto Rico, the Dominican
Republic, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela,
Guyana and Brazil. Despite the
demonstrated ability of manatees to move
thousands of kms along continental margins,
haplotype frequency comparisons
demonstrate genetic separations of
populations between most locations. These
findings are consistent with tagging studies
which indicate that stretches of open water
and unsuitable coastal habitats constitute
substantial barriers to gene flow and
colonization. Low levels of genetic diversity
within Florida and Brazilian samples might be
explained by recent colonization or
bottleneck effects, respectively. Three
distinctive mtDNA lineages were
observed in T. manatus, corresponding
approximately to Florida and the Greater
Antilles, Mexico and Caribbean South
America, and Atlantic South America sample
sites. These lineages, which are not

concordant with previous subspecies
designations, are separated by sequence
divergence estimates ofp=0.03-0.07,
approximately the same level of divergence
observed between T. manatus and the
Amazonian manatee (T. inunguis). Angela
I. Garcia-Rodriguez (Dept. of Fisheries &
Aquatic Sciences, P.O. Box 110600, Univ. of
Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611), B. W.
Bowen, A. Mignucci-Giannoni, M.
Marmontel, R. Montoya-Ospina, B.
Morales-Vela, M. Rudin, D. P. Domning,
and P. M. McGuire


Toba Aquarium Acquires West African
Manatees. In May 1996, two African
manatees (Trichechus senegalensis) were
captured by local fishermen in the Geba
River in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa. We
transported these animals to Japan under
permits from both countries to study the
behavior of this species in captivity at Toba
We have kept dugongs at Toba Aquarium
since 1977, and have endeavored to do
research on the captive care of the dugong
as well as its behavior in captivity. We
are proud that, as a result, a huge number
of visitors have shown considerable interest
in, as well as gained better understanding of
the dugong and other endangered species.
Furthermore, our activities have not
only brought about progress in
conservation of dugongs, but also have
proven to be educational for the peoples
of the Philippines through ourjoint project
with that country. Our purpose in keeping
African manatees is to study their

feeding and reproductive behavior in
In comparison with other species of
sirenians, the African manatee is not yet
well known among the general public or
even biologists. Evidently, judging from
our research in Guinea-Bissau, the same can
be said for the local peoples inhabiting
the area where the manatees occur. It is
therefore imperative for more people to get
a better understanding of this species in
order to develop activities for its
Our surveys of African manatees in
Guinea-Bissau lasted respectively for a week
in December 1994 and from March to June
1996. They covered a distance of 60 km,
from the middle reaches of the Geba River to
Contuboel [see H.-J. Schuhmann, 1995,
Natur und Museum 125(12): 402-409].
This river meanders along with widths of
40-100 m. At the time of our surveys in the
dry season, its depth was about 4 m. At the
beginning of the dry season in December,
floating water grass (Trapa natans)
increased significantly and covered the water
surface as far as the middle of the river, but
decreased after March. However, in the
upper reaches at Contuboel, these floating
plants grew well, despite the dry season and
low water levels. We assumed that the
difference in quantity of the floating grass
in these two areas was caused by feeding
activities of the manatees.
Locating the manatees proved to be
extremely hard, due to the muddy water as
well as the species' behavior. The native
fishermen, however, are able to locate the
manatees by day or night. We could often
confirm their location when they fled on

hearing our outboard motors. In our survey
of March 1996, 35 manatees were sighted
In Guinea-Bissau, meat of captured
manatees is often sold as food According to
local sources, there was an instance in
February 1996 when seven manatees were
caught at the same time in Bafata. In most
cases, though, the manatees are not
deliberately hunted, but rather get caught
accidentally in fishing nets. During our
survey, four were caught, two at a time.
Although the native people usually kill them
as soon as they are caught, we were
fortunate to obtain from fishermen two
live individuals which were caught near
Geba on 8 May 1996. These were a male
and a female, both 3 m long.
We kept them in Bafata from 8 to 30
May, and thereafter in the Guinea-Bissau
National Zoo from 31 May to 12 June. A
holding tank 6.6 m in diameter and 0.9 m
deep was made from a tarpaulin and filled
with water from the Geba River. Water
temperature ranged from 28.8-33.0 C. We
tried to feed them 15 kinds of water plants,
including Neptunia oleracea, Trapa
natans, Ludwigia decurrans var., and
Pistia stratiotes. We observed that they ate
some species of Gramineae eagerly while at
the zoo.
We transported them to Japan on 12 June
1996 by a chartered aircargo MD-11. The
flight from Bissau to Nagoya took about 21
hours; about 32 hours in all were required
including the transport from Nagoya Airport
to Toba Aquarium. During transport the
manatees were held in containers with water
and some urethane foam matting for
support. For handling and moving, a power
crane and forklift were used They tended

to struggle on the stretcher if the air
temperature in the plane compartment rose,
so we set the cabin temperature to 19 C. It
was kept between 18.4 and 21.8 C, with 52-
91% humidity. We also took steps to keep
their body temperature from rising by
showering them continuously. At times they
would pull themselves up and wag their
tails; when they did so, we had no choice but
to wait until they calmed down. A few
hours after arrival at Toba Aquarium, we
noticed that they eagerly consumed a
quantity of Italian ryegrass (Lolium
Two types of indoor pool, a display tank
with 300 m3 of water volume (12.0 x 6.8 x 3.8 m)
and a holding tank of 70 m3 (6.8 x 4.2 x 2.8 m),
were provided for the manatees. The
filtration and circulation systems are built
into five filter tanks, equipped for 19
turnovers per 24 hours. Water and air
temperatures are controlled at 25-30 C
respectively. A skylight in the ceiling admits
At Toba Aquarium the African manatees
have mainly been fed Italian ryegrass and
leaf lettuce, in addition to various foods
such as Sorgo, orchard grass, seagrass,
carrots and Chinese cabbage. Initially,
daily food consumption of the two manatees
had been 50-60 kg, which is estimated to be
about 5% of their body weight/day/animal;
now it has increased to 80-90 kg (8-
9% of body weight). Their body weights
were 386 kg (male) and 379 kg (female)
on arrival at Toba, and had increased to
480 and 465 kg, respectively, by 21 August
1996. Shiro Asano and Shinji Sakamoto
(Toba Aquarium)
[EDITOR'S NOTE: This very large

reported weight gain of the animals in only
two months was confirmed by Toba
Aquarium personnel, who attribute it in part
to the fact that during the time the
animals were held in Guinea-Bissau, their
digestive tracts became nearly empty, so
that the initially recorded weights were
artificially low. As of 23 March 1997,
Toba's African manatees were doing well
and had reached weights of around 500 kg or
more. The pair of dugongs at Toba are also
said to be doing well and sometimes
mating; analysis of progesterone in the
female's urine indicates an ovulation cycle
of 50 days.]

Wildlife Conservation Meets Rational
Utilization and Community Benefits: The
Controversial Case of the African Manatee in
Guinea-Bissau. On 12 June 1996, a
chartered jet left Bissau International Airport
carrying two very special passengers on a 28-
hour journey. The two manatees (Trichechus
senegalensis) on board were en route for
Toba Aquarium in Japan after having left in
their trail a number of heated arguments
between local conservationists, government
departments, NGOs, and foreign
professionals. Now that the dust has settled, it
is possible to come back to the facts and
report that the Toba Aquarium has gone to
considerable expense and effort to acquire a
pair of African manatees from Guinea-Bissau.
Guinea-Bissau is considered one of the
poorest countries in the world, with an
annual GDP of under US$200 per capital and
an external debt currently running at US$850
million. It is also one of the countries that
receive the most international aid. Saying that
government departments lack funding,

equipment, expertise, and motivation is only
an understatement of the reality. Middle-level
government staff receive in a very irregular
manner a salary of around 500, 000 Guinean
pesos (US$22) per month.
Although some authors indicate that
Guinea-Bissau hosts the largest population of
manatees in West Africa (Kelleher et al.
[eds.]. 1995. A Global Representative System
of Marine Protected Areas, Volume II. World
Bank/IUCN), little is known locally about the
status of the population. The most recent
work, based on sample censuses, gives an
estimate of around 10, 000 animals for the
country (Schuhmann, H.J. 1995. "Der
Manati, Trichechus senegalensis, im Rio
Geba, Guinea Bissau." Natur und Museum
125(12): 402-409).
Intentional killing of manatees is not rare.
This is done by transgressors of traditional
laws and beliefs for the purpose of sales of
meat (considered as the finest available), and
by peasant farmers in revenge for the
destruction of rice fields in which the animals
graze when the water levels rise. The main
threat to the manatee comes from the
disappearance of its natural and undisturbed
Manatees seem to occur in all water
channels of the country (except the Rio
Corubal; Anon. 1989. R6sultats de
l'inventaire faunique au niveau national et
propositions de modifications A la loi sur la
chasse. MDRA/CECI/IUCN) and in the
shallow and turbid waters of the Bijagos
Archipelago (recently classified as a
Biosphere Reserve). The Bissau-Guinean
manatee is listed on Appendix II of CITES.
The Direcga-o Geral das Florestas e Caca
(General Direction of Forestry and

Hunting) is the management authority
responsible for the issuing of CITES
certificates. Locally, hunting and live
captures are regulated by a rather antiquated
law of 1980 that indicates that protected
animals should not be killed or captured
alive. The manatee is listed locally as an
"Animal Protegido".
(NOTE: The following information was
obtained from Mr. Schuhmann, who was
acting as an intermediary between the Toba
Aquarium and the local authorities. This
information was cross-checked and completed
with information from the staff of the
Direction of Forestry and Hunting who
were involved with the operation on the
In December 1993, the Toba Aquarium
contacted a private entrepreneur in Bissau for
the acquisition of two pairs of manatees.
After discussions between the Ministry of
Agriculture and Toba, two expeditions had to
be organized to get a clearer picture of the
status of the population before a decision was
to be taken and the relevant national and
CITES permits issued. After these
expeditions were completed (December
1994 and March 1995), formal application
was made by the intermediary for the
capture of two pairs of animals. Toba sent
appropriate staff to meet with the Ministry
and finalize the agreement. In the
meantime, the Japanese CITES authorities
provided the necessary authorizations for
The capture was to take place in Rio
Geba, where the largest concentrations of
manatees were encountered during the
surveys. Toba sent one veterinarian, two
biologists, and three animal keepers to

Guinea-Bissau for the event. They were
accompanied by the local intermediary and
staff of the Ministry of Agriculture. Soon
after their arrival on the river, the team was
offered a pair of manatees by the local
fishermen. Unfortunately these had been killed.
After several days of fruitless capture
attempts by the Japanese team it was decided
to request the assistance of the local leader of
the fishermen. Within a few days, two
animals (male and female), each measuring
2.5 m long, were captured simultaneously
and delivered to the team alive and in good
condition. Minor skin wounds caused by the
capture nets developed into localized
mycosic infections and were treated (the red
marks left by the antiseptic were interpreted
later by some observers as open bleeding,
leading to fears for the health and welfare of
the animals). Twenty million Guinean pesos
(around US$850 at the time) were paid to the
leader of the fishermen for the services of
the community. In the meantime, the Ministry
of Fisheries, alarmed by the unrecorded
presence of a foreign party using fishing nets
in a river, sent staff to investigate. After
agreement over the non-fish nature of the
manatee and the exhibition of the appropriate
authorizations and certificates, staff of that
ministry was reassured that no foul play was
The animals were kept at the capture site
for two weeks in a specially arranged pool
(10 m in diameter and 1 m in depth). They
were then transported by truck with police
escort to the zoo in Bissau, a 9-hour journey.
In Bissau, they were kept in a similar pool (a
spare pool was kept filled at all times in case
leakage would create an emergency
situation). In a matter of days, the animals

became familiar with the people and were
accepting play. They were fed on cultured
vegetables and water plants, and later accepted
all types of vegetables. After a few days of
seclusion to allow them to recuperate from the
stress caused by the change of environment
and transport, the Ministry of Agriculture
authorized visitors to view the animals. It is
reported that as many people came to see the
manatees every day as there are visitors to
the zoo in one month in normal times.
Entry fees are paid directly into the State's
Overall, the acquisition of one pair of
manatees seems to have cost the Toba
Aquarium around US$1.8 million. This
includes the conversion of one of their
enclosures at the aquarium to meet the needs
of the African manatees, the chartering of the
aircraft, the Japanese staffs time and
transport, the capture equipment, insurance
costs, technical assistance in Guinea-Bissau,
purchase of ten bicycles, six motorbikes, and
six computers to be used by the Direction of
Forestry and Hunting, etc.
So far, no problem has been reported by
Toba concerning the health of the animals.
The Japanese could be interested in acquiring
another pair of African manatees in order to
increase the chances of captive breeding. -
Eric M. Feron (Chief Scientific and
Technical Advisor, IUCN, Guinea-Bissau)

Manatee Conservation Plan for
Guinea-Bissau. IUCN Guinea-Bissau,
together with the Direcca-o das
Florestas e Caca (Forestry and Hunting
Department), are preparing a first study
to elaborate and implement a national
manatee conservation action plan. This

study should take place before July
1997 with the assistance of a Portuguese
marine mammal specialist.
Given the fact that Guinea-Bissau is
considered to host the largest population
of manatees (Trichechus senegalensis) in
Africa, the project is of major value for the
conservation of biodiversity.
We would like to call for information
from specialists in this subject in order
to benefit from the wealth of expertise
available through the IUCN Sirenia
Specialist Group. Please contact: Eric M.
Feron (Chief Scientific and Technical
Advisor, IUCN Bissau, e-mail gbro@hq.
iucn.org, fax +245 201168)


Manatee Sanctuary in Mexico. One
of the most important areas for manatees in
Mexico is Chetumal Bay and the Hondo
River, situated in the southeastern part of
the Mexican state of Quintana Roo, on
the border with Belize. On 25 October
1996, the President of Mexico declared
Chetumal Bay to be a Manatee Sanctuary.
As the first officially protected area for
manatees in Mexico, this sanctuary shows
that the people and government of
Mexico are concerned with conservation
of this endangered sirenian. In Quintana
Roo, the manatee is a symbol of
conservation of living resources.
The declaration of the sanctuary is
consistent with specific recommendations
for proactive conservation of the West
Indian manatee, as stipulated in 1994-1995
by the United Nations Environment
Programme's SPAW (Specially Protected

Areas and Wildlife) Regional Programme.
Because Chetumal Bay waters are under
the jurisdiction of both Mexico and Belize,
the government of Mexico has encouraged
the Belizean government to implement
protection in those parts of the Bay that
belong to Belize. If this happens, the
two governments will have protected one
of the most important manatee habitats in
the Caribbean.
The Chetumal Bay Manatee
Sanctuary contains 281,320 ha, including
over 101,000 ha of mangroves, wetlands,
and hydrological basins adjacent to the
Bay. The characteristics of the Bay that
make it attractive to a population of
about 130 manatees include shallow and
protected waters, a temperature range of
25-300C, and salinities of 0-18 ppt. The
main aquatic vegetation includes
Batophora sp., Chara sp., Najas
marina, Ruppia maritima, Halodule
wrightii, and Thalassia testudinum.
Creation of the Sanctuary is the
product of several years of research,
public education, and negotiations by the
marine mammals staff of El Colegio de la
Frontera Sur (ECOSUR), together with
important activities of citizens concerned
with conservation of this aquatic
mammal in Mexico. During 1997,
ECOSUR will work with the Government
of Quintana Roo and the Ministry of
Natural Resources in Mexico City to
develop a management plan for the
Sanctuary. Special attention will be paid to
conservation of areas most frequently
used by manatees, protection of streams
and lagoons that drain into the Bay,
regulating use of pesticides and

herbicides along the Hondo River, and
regulating use of fishing nets that have
incidentally taken manatees in the past six
years. Efforts will be made to strengthen
bilateral cooperation between Mexico
and Belize to conserve manatees; the foci
will include additional collaborative
research, education, and public awareness.
Another important component of
manatee conservation in Mexico was the
creation of the NGO Amigos del Manati,
A.C., in September 1996 in Chetumal City
(P.O. Box 334, C.P. 77000). Benjamin
Morales is the President of the NGO (e-
mail: bmorales@xaway.ciqro.conacyt.mx),
whose main goal is to assist development of
manatee education activities, especially in
Quintana Roo and Belize. Any support or
educational materials in English or Spanish
are welcome. Benjamin Morales Vela
(ECOSUR, Apdo. Postal 424, C.P. 77000,
Chetumal, Q. Roo, Mexico)

Impounded Manatees in Tabasco
Threatened. A group of West Indian
manatees is impounded in a large pond
located in a park in the city of Jonuta in
the state of Tabasco, southern Mexico. Five
years ago this population consisted of 12
individuals. Because of fluctuating water
availability as well as pollution, the
population has been reduced to five or six
individuals. Two years ago a brook that
leaves the pond was blocked to try to
alleviate the pollution problem, which
was mainly caused by sewage discharge,
but at the same time this created
another problem: during the dry season
the water supply was scarce, leaving the
animals in a very shallow environment.

This problem has been taken care of with
the installation of a pump that supplies
water from the nearby Usumacinta River.
I am concerned about this population
and have been trying to start a project with
a group of classmates. Unfortunately, there
are political issues involved as well as
economic limitations and this has made it
difficult to get started. Nonetheless, I
managed to get a permit to exhume bones
(vertebrae and ribs) of an individual that
died one year ago.
I would like to have the suggestions
of other sirenian researchers and
conservationists about how to proceed.
- Diego Santiago Alarc6n (c/Marte #107,
Fracc. Galaxia, C.P. 86035, Villahermosa,
Tabasco 2000, Mexico)


Dugong Postage Stamp. On January
25, 1996, the United Arab Emirates
postal service issued a set of three marine
mammal postage stamps promoting
environmental protection. The 50f
denomination depicts a group of dugongs;
the 2d and 3d stamps portray the
common dolphin and humpback whale,
respectively. These three stamps, which
bear Scott catalog numbers 506-508,
were also issued as a souvenir sheet.


New Record of Dugong in Con Dao
Waters, Southeast Vietnam. There has
been very little research and information
on sea animals of Vietnam in general
and dugongs in particular. Up to now, the

dugong has been recorded several times.
In July 1960, a dugong was caught in a
fishing net about 20 km south of Nha Trang
(Tran Ngoc Loi, 1962). Van Bree and
Gallagher (1977) published information
on seven specimens from the Con Dao
Islands, which are housed in the Museum of
Bordeaux, France, and one specimen from
Ha Coi (Tonkin Gulf, North Vietnam)
housed in the Museum National
d'Histoire Naturelle (Paris). Smith et al.
(1995) reported dugong skulls from Van
Gia, Khai Luong, Ba Ha 1, Cua Be, and
Ninh Hai (around Nha Trang).
During an expedition to the Con Dao
Islands by scientists from the Haiphong
Institute of Oceanology in March-April
1996, we were informed that a dugong had
been caught in a fishing net in Con Son Bay
in July 1993. This dugong was reportedly
1.2-1.4 m long and weighed 40-45 kg.
Because no scientists or fixatives were
available on the island, photographs of
the dugong were made by a tourist and
the dugong was then given to a fisherman
for food. We have only two photos of this
dugong given us by Mr. Le Xuan Ai,
Director of Con Dao National Park.
Fishermen from Hong Kong who
were culturing coral reef fishes in Con Son
Bay informed us that they often saw a
group of 7-10 dugongs there during the
period June-October, when the seagrass
beds are better developed. Four species
of seagrass are present at Con Dao:
Thalassia hemprichi, Halophila ovalis,
Halodule tridentata, and Syringodium


Smith, B.D., Jefferson, T.A., Dao Tan Ho,
Leatherwood, S., Chu Van Thuoc,
Andersen M., & Chiam, E. 1995.
Marine mammals of Vietnam: a
preliminary checklist. Collection of
Marine Research Works (Inst. of
Oceanography, NCNST of Vietnam, Nha
Trang) 6: 147-176.

Tran Ngoc Loi. 1962. Capture d'un dugong
au Vietnam. Mammalia 26: 451-452.
Van Bree, P.J.H., & Gallagher, M.D. 1977.
Catalogue de la collection des
mammiferes marines du Museum de
Bordeaux. Ann. Soc. Sci. Nat. Charente-
Maritime 6: 289-307.

- Lang Van Ken (Haiphong Institute of

The following abstracts are of papers and posters presented at the VII Reuni6n
de Trabajo de Especialistas en Mamiferos Aquaiticos de America del Sur, Vina del Mar,
Chile, 22-25 October 1996.


Anderson, P.K. 1995. Scarring and photoidentification of dugongs (Dugong dugon)
in Shark Bay, Western Australia. Aquat. Mamms. 21(3): 205-211.

Bajpai, S., and D.P. Domning. 1997. A new dugongine sirenian from the Early
Miocene of India. Jour. Vert. Paleo. 17(1). [Bharatisiren kachchhensis, n.gen. n.

Boice, L.P. 1996. Managing endangered species on military lands. Endangered
Species Update 13(7-8): 1-5? [Manatees in Florida and Puerto Rico.]

Chance, M.R.A. 1996. Reason for externalization of the testis of mammals.
Jour. Zool. 239(4): 691-695.

De Iongh, H.H. 1996. Plant-herbivore interactions between seagrasses and dugongs
in a tropical small island ecosystem. Ph.D. thesis, Catholic University, Nijmegen,
The Netherlands; printed for the author, Wageningen, The Netherlands: xviii
+ 205. [Comprises two articles previously published and five others submitted
to various journals, plus additional material.]

Domning, D.P. 1997. "Sirenia." Chap. 23 in: R.F. Kay, R.H. Madden, R.L. Cifelli,
and J.J. Flynn (eds.), Vertebrate Paleontology in the Neotropics: the Miocene
Fauna of La Venta, Colombia. Washington & London, Smithsonian Inst. Press: 383-


Griebel, U., and A. Schmid. 1996. Color vision in the manatee (Trichechus
manatus). Vision Res. 36(17): 2747-2757.

Kozawa, Y., K. Suzuki, and H. Mishima. 1996. Development of tooth structure in
aquatic mammals. Bull. Inst. Oceanogr. (Monaco), Special Issue 14(4): 353-357.

Lavergne, A., E. Douzery, T. Stichler, F.M. Catzeflis, and M.S. Springer. 1996.
Interordinal mammalian relationships: evidence for paenungulate monophyly
is provided by complete mitochondrial 12S rRNA sequences. Molec. Phylogenetics
& Evol. 6(2): 245-258.

Lecuyer, C., P. Grandjean, F. Paris, M. Robardet, and D. Robineau. 1996.
Deciphering "temperature" and "salinity" from biogenic phosphates: the d180 of
coexisting fishes and mammals of the Middle Miocene sea of western France.
Palaeogeogr. Palaeoclim. Palaeoecol. 126(1-2): 61-74.

Nickel, B. 1995. On the palynostratigraphic classification of the sirenian
finding site Schauenburg-Hoof near Kassel. Philippia 7(2): 165-167. [In German;
Engl. summ. Discusses an Oligocene Halitherium site.]

Preen, A.R., H. Marsh, I.R. Lawler, R.I.T. Prince, and R. Shepherd. 1997.
Distribution and abundance of dugongs, turtles, dolphins and other megafauna in
Shark Bay, Ningaloo Reef and Exmouth Gulf, Western Australia. Wildlife Research
24: 185-208.

RicqlIs, A. de, and V. de Buffrenil. 1995. Sur la presence de pachyosteosclerose
chez la rhytine de Steller [Rhytina (Hydrodamalis) gigas], sirenien recent 6teint.
Ann. Sci. Nat., Zool. (Paris) (13)16: 47-53.

Stubbe, M. 1996. Die Stellersche Seekuh (Hydrodamalis gigas, Syn.: Rhytina stelleri).
In: W. Hintzsche & T. Nickol (eds.), Die Grosse Nordische Expedition: Georg
Wilhelm Steller (1709-1746) ein Lutheraner erforscht Sibirien und Alaska. Eine
Ausstellung der Franckeschen Stiftungen zu Halle [12 May 1996 31 Jan. 1997].
Gotha, Justus Perthes Verlag ([xii] + 347 pp.): 285-290. [Chapter on Steller's sea
cow in the lavishly illustrated catalog of an exhibit dealing with Steller's life and
career and Bering's second expedition.]

Trocine, R.P., and J.H. Trefry. 1996. Metal concentrations in sediment, water and
clams from the Indian River Lagoon, Florida. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 32(10): 754-759.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. 1996. Florida Manatee Recovery Plan Second
Revision. Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service: 160pp.

Winter, L. 1993. The manatee excavation. Museum of Antigua and Barbuda
[Newsletter?]: [3 pp.] [Description of the excavation of a manatee skeleton in
Antigua in July-August 1993, with 3 photos and an inventory of the vertebrae and ribs

Yang G. and Zhou K. 1996. Incidental catch and its impact on marine mammal
populations. Yingyong Shengtai Xuebao 7(3): 326-331. [In Chinese; Engl. summ.]


Oficina AZCARM, Zoologico Guadalajara, Paseo del Zool6gico #600, A.P. 1-1494,
C.P. 44100, Guadalajara, Jalisco, MEXICO (e-mail: 74173.1500@compuserve.
com. MEXICO)

E. H. Downs, 18 Birklands Park, London Road, St. Albans, Herts ALl ITS, ENGLAND

Peter J. Fernandes, 801 Coventry Lane, Apt. 202, Norwood, Massachusetts 02062-2438,

Casey J. Gluckman, 541 Old Magnolia Road, Crawfordville, Florida 32327, USA

Ruby Montoya, TAES Shrimp Mariculture Project, 1300 Port St., Port Aransas, Texas
78373-4200, USA

D. J. O'Donnell, 275 East Shasta Ave. #90, Chico, Cal. 95973-0543, USA

Jonathan Salkind, 217 South St., Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts 02167-3651, USA

Charles Tambiah, c/o 451 Rinehardt Road, Mooresville, N. Car. 28115, USA

U.S. Marine Mammal Commission, 4340 East-West Highway, Room 905,
Bethesda, Maryland 20814, USA

Wetlands International, Marijkeweg 11, P.O. Box 7002, 6700 CA Wageningen,
THE NETHERLANDS (tel. +31 317 474711; fax +31 317 474712)


The Sirenewsfax number is 1-202-265-7055 (USA).

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