| Material Information
||Sirenews newsletter of the IUCNSSC Sirenia Specialist Group
||v. : ; 29 cm.
||International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources -- Sirenia Specialist Group
International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources -- Sirenia Specialist Group
||IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group
||Place of Publication:
||two no. a year[apr. 1984-]
||Sirenia -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
Marine mammals -- Periodicals ( lcsh )
||periodical ( marcgt )
||Includes bibliographical references.
||Additional Physical Form:
||Also issued via the World Wide Web.
||Dates or Sequential Designation:
||No. 1 (Apr. 1984)-
||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.
||Title from caption.
||Latest issue consulted: No. 48 (Oct. 2007).
| Record Information
||University of Florida
||University of Florida
||All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
||oclc - 35841617
lccn - 2009208704
issn - 1017-3439
NUMBER 33 APRIL 2000
IN THIS ISSUE:
MANATEE TAKES UP RESIDENCY IN BAHAMAS
AMAZONIAN MANATEE REHABILITATED AND RELEASED
SIRENIAN HABITAT THREATENED IN OKINAWA AND FLORIDA
Cicely Kate Ricardo Bertram
6 July 1999, in Graffham, Sussex, England
Dr. Kate Bertram, wife and collaborator of Dr. Colin Bertram, died on 6 July 1999 after suffering for
several years from Alzheimer's disease. Her life was celebrated with memorial services at Graffham and
at Cambridge, where she had formerly served as President of Lucy Cavendish College. She is survived
by Colin, her husband of almost sixty years, and by numerous children and grandchildren.
The Bertrams' long career of joint biological research is detailed in Colin's privately-published 1987
autobiography Antarctica, Cambridge, conservation and population: a biologist's story. Kate, daughter
of an engineer and granddaughter of a noted architect, was a specialist in Central African fishes and
other aspects of tropical aquatic biology. But among their many other achievements, the Bertrams are
best known to the readers of Sirenews for having done more than any other individuals to usher in the
modern era of sirenian biology.
They carried out joint fieldwork on manatees and dugongs in the Guianas, Belize, Australia, Papua New
Guinea, and Sri Lanka, and between 1962 and 1977 they published nearly two dozen scientific and semi
popular articles and books on the biology, distribution, status, economic uses, and conservation of
sirenians. These papers, appearing in Nature and other widely disseminated publications on wildlife and
conservation, were frequently cited (being, indeed, almost the only sources of up-to-date information on
sirenians and their status) and attracted the attention of many researchers to these neglected species.
Much of this information on status and distribution was necessarily collected at long range and second
hand, through a worldwide network of correspondents -- a time-consuming chore in pre-Internet days.
Their work was a major stimulus for the creation of the IUCN/SSC Sirenia Specialist Group (of which
Colin was the first Chair). In the 1970s they also devoted much effort to establishing a manatee research
center in Guyana, but ultimately without success. Elsewhere, however, the continued flourishing of
sirenology and the improved chances for survival of the animals themselves stand as monuments to Kate
and Colin's patient prodding. DPD
THE EMILY B. SHANE AWARD
The Emily B. Shane Award supports conservation-oriented, non-harmful research on free-ranging
odontocetes and sirenians. The award honors Emily B. Shane (1924-1995), a fine amateur naturalist and
dedicated conservationist. The award, given annually, will total approximately $10,000. Typically, the
award has been divided between two or three winners. Although awards will be made for no more than
one year at a time, applicants may apply more than once for the same project. Applications are due by
Monday, 12 June 2000 and should be sent to:
Marine Mammal Research Program
Texas A & M University
4700 Ave. U, Bldg. 303
Galveston, TX 77551 USA
409-740-4718 (for delivery via express mail, Federal Express, etc.).
E-mail applications will be accepted at: . Applicants outside the U.S.
must take responsibility for insuring the timely delivery of their applications. The award recipients) will
be announced by 1 September 2000.
Eligibility: The award is available to students and other researchers who meet the evaluation criteria.
The application should be submitted by the person conducting the research. A student's professor should
send a cover letter of support, if his/her involvement in the project is essential to the completion of the
Evaluation Criteria: Applicants should send four copies of the proposal (one e-mail copy is sufficient)
to the address above. The following materials should be included:
A proposal, not exceeding three pages (use Times font, 12-point type, single spacing, 2 cm
margins) in length, outlining the proposed research, its objectives, methods, the role of the
proposed work in conservation, the time period for research, the persons conducting field
research and their roles, and literature cited.
In addition to the 3-page proposal, applicants must include:
A budget, including other funding applied for or already held for the proposed research
(applicants demonstrating the greatest financial need will be given special attention, and requests
for funds covering direct research expenses will be given greater consideration);
A current C.V./resum6 of the applicant (include a demonstration of the applicant's ability to
convey scientific information to both general and professional audiences via writing and
speaking; an applicant's age and level of schooling will be taken into consideration);
Three references with phone number, e-mail address and relationship to the applicant.
General: Applicants must have applied for any necessary permits or authorizations for conducting the
proposed research. Permits and authorization must be obtained before the award funds are disbursed.
Non-harmful research is that which poses a proven minimal risk to the health and life of an individual
animal and to other species within the ecosystem. Research which involves handling animals or invasive
techniques is acceptable only if carried out by competent, experienced personnel and provides clear
benefits in terms of conservation and scientific knowledge.
A report summarizing the research completed with support from the Emily B. Shane Award must be
submitted at the end of the year of funding. This report should include relevant conservation
recommendations, plans for publication of the results, and ongoing research plans. Ten percent (10%) of
the total amount of the award will be withheld until the final report is received at the above address.
The Culture Corner
... Being an Occasional Sampling of the Inexorable Penetration of Popular Culture by Sirenia
By now, many readers of this newsletter (at least those of us with small children) have become aware of
Pok6mons™, the latest wave of Japanese exports in the cartoon and toy industry. This
merchandising mega-craze centers around imaginary creatures called Pok6mons (short for "pocket
monsters"), which are caught and trained for combat, cockfight-fashion, by the human characters in a
cartoon series. These fanciful beasts come in over 150 species, variously adapted to land, sea, and air.
Some forms are capable of "evolving" (i.e., metamorphosing) into others under the proper conditions.
Their diversity and varied attributes offer endless possibilities for matches among the cartoon
combatants, as well as for games, trading cards, toys, and other collectible items in the all-too-real world
of kid-oriented commerce.
Since many Pok6mons are based (very loosely and imaginatively) on real organisms, it is appropriate
that at least one of them should represent a sirenian not a manatee this time but (fittingly, in view of the
West Pacific origin of this adaptive radiation) a dugong. Pok6mon variety no. 87 in the official
handbook (of course there is one) is a creature called Dewgong, which is said to be a fast swimmer and
tolerant of very cold water. It sports a single short horn on its head, apparently for breaking through sea
ice. (I did say that the resemblance to real animals is typically loose.) It also happens to be the more
"evolved" form of another Pok6mon called Seel no doubt in recognition of the fact that sirenians are a
notch above pinnipeds on the grand scale of aquatic adaptation. DPD
Update on Captive Dugong in Australia. Readers of Sirenews will be aware that Sea World
(Australia) has been attempting to rear a stranded male dugong which came into our care as a neonate
(1.09m, 19.7kg) in November 1998. Although two other young dugongs have been reared at Toba
Aquarium in Japan (1.47m, 47kg) and at Underwater World in Singapore (1.48m, ~65kg), respectively -
all previous attempts to raise neonatal dugongs in captivity have been unsuccessful.
The dugong is now about 16 months old, and is 1.89m long and weighs 131.5kg. We have been
gradually weaning him from 11 bottle feeds per day down to six, since he turned 12 months old. At the
same time, we greatly increased the amount of vegetables offered after each bottle, from token amounts
(a few hundred grams) up to 1.5-2kg per feed. Initially he continued to gain 2-4kg per fortnight, but then
at 6 bottles/day at 3-hour intervals he hit 117kg and ground to a halt for three consecutive weighing
(two fortnights). We assumed that we had decreased his total calories by not matching vegetables
offered against milk withheld, and with increased effort on our part he started gaining again. He has now
gone down to four bottles at 4-hr intervals, and his greens have been upped to 3.5kg offered per feed.
We have not yet seriously addressed the question of converting him from vegetables to seagrass. We
discovered that it took about an hour of threading to put 100g of Zostera capricorni (the most robust
locally-available species) into one of his feed plates. In half this time we could have loaded up (and he
could have eaten) more than 1.5kg of lettuce, etc. An attempt last August to get him to eat some faeces
passed by wild dugongs was quite successful, but he was much less enthusiastic during a recent attempt
to repeat the exercise.
We now have the challenge of another dugong a 2m, 167kg female with a severe shark bite on her
tailstock which had beached herself in shallow water at Bundaberg three days ago. In addition to the
gaping muscle defect on the right side of her tail (which is at least a few days old) she bears the marks of
two other less successful bites, one adjacent to the wound and one over her left shoulder. Serum
biochemical values reflect the severe tissue trauma caused by these injuries. This is our first experience
with a non-naive dugong, and we were very relieved when she was prepared to eat seagrass from one of
the PVC-pipe-and-vinyl-tubing contraptions which serve as our original animal's feed plates. At this
stage, however, she has only consumed about half of what we think should be her average daily intake. -
Wendy Blanshard (Veterinarian, Sea World, Gold Coast, Australia; )
Turtle and Dugong Hunting Management Plan. As dugong hunting by Indigenous Australians is a
Native Title Right, most informed stake holders acknowledge that hunting must be managed by
establishing formal partnerships between Indigenous communities and the relevant government
managing agencies. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act requires Indigenous communities or
individuals to have a permit to hunt in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. At present permits are not
issued for hunting on the urban coast of the Park but are available to communities in remote regions on
Cape York Peninsula.
In a historic first, Hope Vale, one of the major green turtle and dugong hunting communities in Cape
York, recently developed "A Guugu Yimmithirr Bama Wii" a plan to manage turtle and dugong
hunting. The Plan is the culmination of years of effort by elders, individuals, groups and agencies inside
and outside of Hope Vale. The development and publication of the Plan was funded by the Hope Vale
Aboriginal Council and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, with support from the Pew
Foundation, James Cook University, the Cape York Land Council, and the Queensland Parks and
The communities' vision is: "To develop and implement controlled and sustainable hunting practices that
will minimize the impact on and contribute to the protection and survival of dugong (Girrbithi) and
turtle (Ngawiya) for the enjoyment and use of future generations." The Plan builds on the GBRMPA
requirement for hunting permits by empowering the community Natural and Cultural Resource
Management Office to issue individual hunting authorities under the community permit. The following
controls have been introduced: a defined Hunting Area, a Hunting Season (Christmas season), and an
annual quota (20 dugongs for the entire community). Hunters must return catch information. It is
forbidden to hunt obviously pregnant female dugongs or cows and their accompanying calves. The
community quota includes a "special hunt" conducted through the Natural and Cultural Resource
Management Office to provide one dugong and two turtles to the Old Folks' home and others in the
community who do not have the opportunity to hunt. Within the annual quota, licensed hunting is
allowed outside the hunting season for funerals of community members but not for birthdays or
The Plan includes penalties for breaching the conditions on a hunting license or for illegal hunting.
These penalties are to be decided by the local Turtle and Dugong Hunting Management Council.
Penalties can range from a warning to severe penalties including community justice measures and
prosecution by the managing agencies under relevant legislation No bartering of meat will be permitted
and meat is not allowed to be transported outside the community.
This Plan is a model for other communities interested in community-based management of turtle and
dugong hunting in northern Australia. Mervyn Gibson (Natural and Cultural Resource Management
Office, Hope Vale Community) and Helene Marsh (James Cook University;
Dugong Action Plan. With funding from IUCN, we are finally hoping to complete the Dugong Action
Plan. A separate Manatee Action Plan will be produced by Miriam Marmontel with the assistance of the
Sirenia Specialist Group. Please provide updates on the status of the dugong in your region to Carol Eros
(). Your contribution will be formally acknowledged. Helene Marsh (James
Cook University; )
Dugong Genetic Study. I have recently commenced a Ph.D. at James Cook University with the aim of
using micro-satellite markers to extend Dani Tikel's work on dugong stock identity. Thanks to many
people (especially Dani) I have specimens from over 200 dugongs from most parts of northern Australia
and from several other countries in the dugong's range. However, I am anxious to extend this sample and
will send preservative to anyone who anticipates being able to supply specimens (a fingernail-sized
piece of gray skin is preferred). We will also have to arrange CITES permits if you are overseas. The
skin can be collected from live or freshly dead dugongs. I am very keen to collaborate with other dugong
researchers and will return DNA from each specimen supplied so that it can also be used in more locally
focused studies, such as studies of dugong mating systems. Brenda McDonald (School of Tropical
Biology, James Cook Univ., Townsville, Australia 4811; )
Dugong Necropsy Program. There were 72 records of stranded or dead dugongs for all of Queensland
in the 1999 calendar year, approximately double the numbers reported in each of the previous three
years. The greatest concentration of strandings occurred in the Hervey Bay-Sandy Straits DPA and
adjacent areas. It is hypothesized that these deaths were largely a consequence of the chain of ecological
events triggered by the record-level Mary River flooding event of February 1999 that caused a large
local die-off of seagrass. There were 37 dugong mortality and stranding reports from within Dugong
Protection Areas (DPAs) and one from within the Moreton Bay Marine Park. Fifty percent of recorded
mortality occurred within the DPAs. Disease was implicated in the death of four of these. For most
carcasses within the DPAs, the cause of death could not be determined mostly because of the
decomposition status of the carcasses. Two dugongs drowned in Department of Primary Industries
Queensland Shark Control Program nets: one at Magnetic Island, one at the Sunshine Coast. At least
nine dugong were killed within the Indigenous Yarrabah Community fishery and three dugong were
reported as taken during non-permitted hunting activities within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park
Area. Colin Limpus (Conservation Strategy Branch, Queensland Dept. of Environment & Heritage;
Florida Manatee Now Resident In The Bahamas. In January 2000, both the Bahamas National Trust
and the Save the Manatee Club received reports of a manatee at Bullocks Harbor, Great Harbour Cay,
Bahamas. Under permit with the Bahamas' Department of Fisheries, I visited Great Harbour Cay from
25 to 27 February 2000 to make a field assessment of the manatee, interview local residents, and provide
management recommendations. Detailed below are findings from this trip and a review of this
individual's interesting history.
Local residents first observed the manatee in the Great Harbour Cay marina on 31 December 1999; they
considered this as a good omen for the coming millennium. Sightings of this rather tame, small adult
female continued almost daily as she returned to drink fresh water from hoses in the marina. I
photographed and videotaped the individual's distinctive scar patterns; she was given the photo-ID
number BH-01 (and the nickname Gina) for inclusion in the USGS/Sirenia Project's Manatee Individual
Photoidentification System. She appeared to be in good body weight and was behaving normally.
Gina's resighting history:
Using photographs of her distinctive scar patterns, we were able to determine that the manatee is the
same as the one routinely seen at the Atlantic Undersea Testing and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in
Andros for a majority of 1999. Here she was reported to frequent the pier and boat ramp area, drink
fresh water from hoses when they were provided, and to approach divers. The last recorded sighting in
Andros was at AUTEC on 17 December 1999.
Amazingly, photo-identification analysis using the Manatee Individual Photo-identification System
reveals that this manatee over-wintered in the Homosassa River, near Crystal River on the west coast of
Florida, in 1993 and 1994! She was a calf when photographed with her mother in the winter of 1993.
She was photographed again as an independent juvenile in the winter of 1994. The photo match was
confirmed by scar patterns, mutilations in the tail, and even wrinkle patterns on the face.
Proposed travel routes:
We are very excited about this discovery. While we have documented the animal's recent movements
through photo-identification records, radio-tracking data from other manatees and analyses of ocean
currents and bathymetry allow us to propose a mechanism for how this individual arrived in the
Bahamas and eventually at Great Harbour Cay. These are relevant findings for explaining certain aspects
of manatee distribution.
In April of 1998, a manatee that had been raised in captivity since it was rescued as a newborn was radio-
tagged and released at Crystal River, FL. This naive individual, named Mo, soon wandered offshore and
for three weeks no satellite-relayed locations were received. Finally, in late May, Mo's transmitter
indicated that he was about 120 miles off the southwest coast of Florida, in deep water and well outside
normal manatee habitat. Mo was rescued on 3 June, 20 miles off the Dry Tortugas and approximately
480 km (300 miles) south of his release site, after drifting in offshore currents for 4 weeks.
Mo's saga provides a scenario for how Gina arrived in the Bahamas. Manatees have been known to
survive long periods without food or fresh water. It is likely that had Mo not been rescued, currents
could have then taken him south of the Florida Keys and into the Gulf Stream. The opportunities for
landfall are then to the west in Florida or east on the Great Bahama Bank. Gina could have had a similar
offshore misadventure and come ashore in the Bahamas. Given the deep waters and strong currents
separating Florida and the Bahamas, it is extremely unlikely that manatees purposely or repeatedly travel
Another clue fits into the Gina story. For several weeks in February 1998, a subadult-sized manatee was
seen at Bimini. This animal was seen daily at the marina docks taking fresh water from hoses. These
sightings are interesting because Bimini, Andros, and Great Harbour Cay are all located on the Great
Bahama Bank with no deep-water passages between them. It is possible that the Bimini sighting was of
Gina and that she then traveled to Andros.
Manatee distribution throughout the species' range is marked by close proximity to fresh water. Limited
sources of fresh water are believed to have been the main factor restricting their numbers in the
Bahamas. Bullocks Harbor and the near-shore waters of Great Harbour Cay provide appropriate habitats
for manatee use. Given her human-tolerant behavior and a reliable source of fresh water provided by
people in the marina, it is possible that Gina will thrive at this location. Provided that she remains
oriented to shallow waters, future movements will likely be limited to other sites on the Great Bahama
Bank, especially those where fresh water is available.
Acknowledgment This research was covered under permit from the Department of Fisheries; thanks to
Mr. Braynen, Director of Fisheries, and Mr. Vallierre Deleveaux. David O'Donald with Sapphire
Aviation graciously provided transportation. Leslie Kauseman and the Save the Manatee Club assisted
with coordination. Thanks to the folks of Great Harbour Cay for the care and consideration they have
shown their new resident manatee, Gina. Jim Reid (Biologist, USGS Sirenia Project)
New Manatee Project. I have recently (November 1999, January 2000) initiated a research and
conservation project for the manatee in Benin, West Africa, which is aimed at establishing the manatee's
current distribution and numbers as well as gathering data on its ecology and behavior. A campaign for
more efficient protection of the manatee by local populations will also be a part of the project.
In order to help my team and myself to gain a better knowledge of manatee biology and of research
methods, I would greatly appreciate copies of publications on sirenians. Jean-Paul Risch (P. 0. Box
05-762, Cotonou, Republic of Benin, W. Africa; )
Amazonian Manatee Rehabil- itation and Release. On 26 January 2000, the Sociedade Civil
Mamiraua successfully transported three captive Amazonian manatees from an urban setting into a
floating pen in the Mamiraud Sustainable Development Reserve (MSDR), in the western Brazilian
Amazon. Hunting still goes on throughout the region, and the destiny of some of the calves, after serving
as bait for mothers to be more easily harpooned, is to be raised in captivity in someone's private property
pond (at best) or to be sold as meat to river traders.
One of the manatees under Mamiraud's care was captured under these circumstances, and confiscated by
IBAMA (Brazil's equivalent of the Department of Environmental Protection) from the buyer's house in
town. Another one, emaciated and being tethered by its tail to the margin of a lake, was confiscated in
the field. The third was eventually donated to the Mamiraud Project by hunters, who could not care for
Boinha (female, 6 years old), Mixirinha (male, 4.5) and Quinquim (male, 4) were bottle-raised from an
early age and recently weaned and maintained only on aquatic plants from water bodies nearby. Prior to
transport they were seen by a vet, at which time feces and blood samples were collected. The animals
were marked in three ways: liquid nitrogen, antibiotics and cooked. They were each fitted in a specially-
built wooden bed and placed in three speedboats powered by 40 HP motors, with help from the local
army. The trip to final destination took about 2 hours, during which they were constantly kept wet.
The floating pen was built with submersion-resistant timber (piranheira) and measures roughly 6.5 x 9 x
2 m, quite an improvement from the modified human swimming pool they lived in for the past years and
shared with two giant river otters. The manatees adapted well and started eating normally after a couple
On Carnival Sunday, for the first time, an orphan, captive-raised Amazonian manatee was released back
into its natural environment. The lucky male, Mixirinha, was a healthy 2.0 m and 200 kg at the time. To
help minimize the possibility of its being hunted, Marmontel and team will spend most of the next 12
months close to Mixirinha. At the same time they will monitor its movements and behavior by means of
a VHF-radio transmitter adapted to a belt by the Sirenia Lab (Gainesville). Communities and hunters
will be advised of the presence of a manatee in the area.
Mixirinha was released in a total-protection zone of MSDR, where there is a local population of
manatees. He will have a few months to get acquainted with the natives and follow them in their yearly
migration in July (normally to next-door Amana Sustainable Development Reserve). If successful, the
experiment may be used to avoid having orphan calves spend the rest of their lives confined in tanks and
pools without mating.
The Mamiraud Reserve, located 700 km west of Manaus, and 40 km from the Amazonian town of Tef6,
is a 1,124,000 ha flooded-forest protected area where the local human population was maintained and
involved in the decision-making process. Along with Amana Sustainable Development Reserve and
adjacent Jai National Park (closer to Manaus), it comprises the largest block of protected tropical forest
in the world, with over 6 million hectares, and represents the embryo of the Central Amazon Ecological
Corridor. For more information on MSDR, please visit .
- Miriam Marmontel
Legislators Seek to Give Away Public Wetlands; Floridians Feeling the Population Pinch. Two bills
making rapid progress through Florida's legislature would convey some 500,000 acres of public lands
into the hands of private owners by redefining the boundary of the State's ownership of wetlands.
Cloaked under the title "Florida Land Title Protection Act", House Bill 1807 and Senate Bill 1824 would
change Florida law dating back 141 years, which says that the boundary between waterfront uplands and
publicly-owned navigable waters is the "ordinary high water boundary" or the normal reach of water
during the high-water season. The new bills would move this boundary well downward, exposing to
development an estimated half-million annually-submerged acres in rivers, estuaries, lakes, and tidal
flats that have always been open to the public for boating and fishing. This would greatly hamper the
State's ability to regulate individual and cumulative development impacts that degrade manatee habitat.
Numerous conservation and environmental groups are opposing this legislation, together with four of
seven members of the Governor's Cabinet, sitting as trustees for Florida's public lands. However, the
terms of 63 of 160 members of the legislature are expiring, and term-limit laws prevent them from
running for re-election; so a considerable number of pro-development bills are being sponsored by lame-
duck members who have minimal accountability to the voters.
A related concern is the revelation (by the Tampa Tribune, April 2, 1999) that "growth management"
plans already approved for Florida's 470 cities and counties by the state's Department of Community
Affairs would eventually accommodate a total of 101 million people in a state that is presently home to
15 million. Florida's population has doubled in the last 25 years and is now growing faster than the
population of the Earth as a whole (2% per year vs. 1.3%).
Negative Population Growth (NPG) and Floridians for a Sustainable Population (FSP) jointly issued a
statement decrying the absurdity of the 101 million-person build-out. NPG subsequently commissioned
a telephone poll of 500 likely Florida voters, taken Sept. 23-27, 1999, with a 4.4% margin of error.
Among other results:
76% agreed and 17% disagreed that "Continued population growth is a threat to Florida's
resource base, environmental health, and quality of life."
68% agreed and 22% disagreed that "Florida would be better off in the long term with a smaller
population to maintain a sound economy and a healthy environment."
52% would be more likely and 15% less likely to vote for a candidate for statewide office who
supported immigration reduction.
However, only 28% supported and 61% opposed a state or local income tax to deter population
Another poll, conducted several weeks later by the Miami Herald and St. Petersburg Times, confirmed
widespread public dissatisfaction (extending across all three major ethnic groups) with the current high
levels of immigration into the state. Both polls received wide coverage by Florida news media. A guest
editorial by Wade Matthews in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (Oct. 17, 1999) asked, "Can we support
such population (in Florida)? Possibly, that is if we don't mind drastically reducing our consumption of
natural resources, drinking our own wastewater, outlawing green lawns, accepting extinction of wild
manatees and many other endangered wildlife, either paving over the state with massive traffic jams or
accepting strict limits on who can have a private car and whether they can drive, crowding our schools
and jails, cutting down forests already reduced worldwide by half and filling up our few remaining wild
places where a person can just be alone for a while without the constant noise and jostling of other
people." (Sources: FPS, NPG)
State Conservation Agency Reorganized. An agency reorganization in the Florida state government in
1999 has moved the manatee program from the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to the
newly created Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC). This new commission
unites the former Marine Fisheries Commissioners and Game and Freshwater Fish Commissioners. The
Bureau of Protected Species Management (David W. Arnold, Chief), which includes the manatee
program, will now be part of the FWCC's Office of Environmental Services, headed by Bradley J.
Hartman; it continues to exercise responsibility for manatee-related management activities (speed zone
rules, manatee protection plans, permit review, habitat protection, education, and public awareness),
which will still be based in Tallahassee. The FWCC also now includes the Florida Marine Patrol. DEP
retains some responsibility for law enforcement, however, in the form of the park police and an
environmental crimes unit.
The state's manatee research activities (telemetry, population assessment, aerial surveys, photo-
identification, Geographic Information System, carcass salvage, pathology, and rescues) continue to be
based at the Florida Marine Research Institute in St. Petersburg, under the leadership of Buddy Powell.
This Institute, directed by Ken Haddad, is now directly under the Executive Director of FWCC (Dr.
Allan L. Egbert).
The practical consequences of this reorganization have yet to be clarified. Changes from the past system
include the division of law enforcement responsibilities between two different agencies, partly
separating them from manatee research and management; and the fact that the manatee program is now
under a panel of commissioners, rather than the single Secretary of DEP. The details of how this new
arrangement will work, and its impact on program coordination, are still being worked out.
The Manatee Technical Advisory Council has been continued in existence at least through the year
2000, but its future is also in question. One of the Council's major concerns has historically been the
protection of the Save the Manatee Trust Fund from attempts to spend its monies on activities that do
not contribute significantly to recovery of the species. This Trust Fund contains money from sales of a
manatee specialty automobile license plate, proceeds from state and county boat registration fees,
voluntary contri-butions, and interest income, and it supports the manatee-related activities of the state
government. The Trust Fund's integrity will continue to be a critical concern as the FWCC takes form.
The new agency's mailing address is: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bureau of
Protected Species Management, 620 South Meridian St., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600; phone 1-850-
922-4330; fax 1-850-922-4338. Its website is at .
Manatees For Sale. River ZooFarm, the Schuhmann family's wildlife-exporting business in Bissau,
West Africa, is advertising on the Internet (Wildlifefound@hotmail.com, Riverzoofarm@hotmail.
corn) the availability (exclusively to "bona fide public show-aquariums") of Trichechus senegalensis,
"of which there are still large populations in Guinea Bissau.... For the year 2000 the Government of
Guinea-Bissau will authorize the capturing and export of only six (6) Manatees." Prices ("live delivery
guaranteed") are said to be available on request.
This was the source from which the Toba Aquarium in Japan acquired its pair of African manatees (see
Sirenews No. 27, April 1997, and below). T. senegalensis is the only manatee species currently listed on
CITES Appendix II, although less is known about its true status in the wild than about that of any other
sirenian. Continued commerce in this species is likely to give cause for controversy in the future.
Update on Sirenians at Toba Aquarium. The first attempt to maintain a dugong in captivity was at the
Steinhart Aquarium in San Francisco, USA, where a male dugong from Palau (182 cm, 82 kg) survived
for only seven weeks in 1955. Subsequently, at least 33 dugongs were kept at 15 aquariums and
institutes in 9 Australasian countries. The Toba Aquarium in Japan has kept dugongs as well as West
African manatees; as of January 2000 it held the following animals:
Dugong dugon (Philippines): female ("Serena"), 268 cm, 345 kg, age 13, captured April 1987; male
("Jun-Ichi"), 252 cm, 308 kg, age 21, captured Sept. 1979.
Trichechus senegalensis (Guinea-Bissau): female ("Haruka"), 300 cm, <500 kg, age <20; male
("Kanata"), 300 cm, <500 kg, age <20; both captured June 1996.
The dugongs are kept in separate pools of sea water at 27-280C, sharing these with tropical reef fishes
and green sea turtles. The pools measure 9.1 x 6.1 x 3.4 m (female) and 10.0 x 6.7 x 3.4 m (male), and
respectively hold 188.7 and 300.6 cubic meters of water. Also available for the dugongs is a holding
tank (5.0 x 4.0 x 1.4 m, 28.0 cubic m).
The manatees are kept together with tropical river fishes and turtles in a freshwater tank measuring 12.0
x 6.7 x 3.8 m and holding 300.0 cubic m at 29-300C. An additional 6.0 x 3.0 m holding tank (84 cubic
m) is also available.
All these pools have high-quality filtration, circulation, and thermo-control systems. Especially to
prevent the spread of coliform bacteria in the pool water, we have two types of sterilizers. One is called
"Selfresher" (chlorination system by electrolysis from NaC1), which is part of the circulation system for
the dugong pools; the other is the ozonizer for the manatee pools.
The dugongs are fed Zostera marina twice a day (25-30 kg or 8-9% of body weight per animal per day).
The manatees are fed Italian ryegrass (Lolium multiflorum; cultivated for racehorses), leaf lettuce
(Lactuca sativa), saltgreen (Brassica chine,,ni,), and seagrass (Zostera marina) three times a day (40-45
kg or 8-9% of body weight per animal per day).
Courtship and mating behavior of the dugongs has been observed; the period of the female's estrous
cycle is 50 days. The manatees have also been mating in captivity. However, no signs of pregnancy have
been observed in either species.
Since 1985 we have carried on a joint project of research on wild dugongs, conservation, and education
at Palawan Island, Philippines, with the science staff of the Philippine Department of Environment and
Natural Resources and NGOs. We have recorded more than 10 accidental catches of dugongs each year
at fishing villages on Palawan. Our team rescued several of these that were caught in traps or fishing
gear; these were rehabilitated (using artificial milk formula in the case of an infant) and released.
Populations of dugongs in Asia are still threatened. We hope our experiences and knowledge of the
captive care of sirenians will be useful for saving their lives in the wild as well as for public education. -
Teruo Kataoka, Shiro Asano, and Yoshihito Wakai (Toba Aquarium)
Threat to Dugongs in Okinawa. The following notice was forwarded by Caryn Self Sullivan. The link
below points to an English website. There are other pages in Japanese at
-sea-jugon/index. html> and .
The lethargic sea-mammal, the dugong, dwelling off the shores of Okinawa (one of the "South-Western
Islands" of Japan), is now on the verge of extinction. A group of six dugongs was sighted in the spring
of 1999; this is the largest group seen in this, the northern-most habitat of the species.
The Mammalogical Society of Japan classifies the dugong in the South-Western Islands as "critically
endangered" according to the IUCN criteria; the Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species (CITES) lists the animal in Appendix 1 (a species to be dealt with under the most strict
regulations). The Japanese Fisheries Agency and the Agency for Cultural Affairs also recognize the
dugong as a species which needs special protection. Their habitat around Camp Schwab in Okinawa is
one of the "Global 200", the areas chosen by the WWF as ecological domains to be protected.
In spite of all these considerations, and against the will of the Okinawan people and the local citizens of
Nago City, Camp Schwab is now being targeted as the construction site for an enlarged U.S. military
base to 'replace' the Futenma base which is to be returned to Japan. The Japanese government is putting
pressure upon Okinawa Prefecture and Nago City so that the Camp Schwab site will be officially chosen
for the new base. The Japanese government wants to finalize the plan to be presented at the "Summit" in
July, 2000 to be held in Okinawa. We are certain that the enlarged base at Camp Schwab will destroy
one of the most precious remaining habitats of the dugong in the entire South-Western Islands region.
We urge all individuals and groups who care for the conservation of nature and the preservation of life
to help us stop this destruction by expressing your concern. Please contact:
Hon. William J. Clinton, President of the U.S.A., c/o The White House, Washington, D.C. 20045
Hon. Mori Yoshiro, Prime Minister of Japan, Prime Minister's Official Residence, Nagata-cho 2-
3-1, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan; Tel: 03-3581-0101; Fax: 03-3581-3883
Hon. Inamine Keiichi, Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, Izumizaki 1-2-2, Naha City, Okinawa,
Japan; Tel: 098-866-2000; Fax: 098-860-1453
Hon. Kishimoto Tateo, Mayor of Nago City, Minato 1-1-1, Nago-shi, Okinawa, Japan; Tel: 0980-
53-1212; Fax: 0980-53-6210
- Suzuki Masako (Association To Save The Dugong Of The Northernmost Habitat; tel/fax: (Japan) 045-
771-3658; ; )
Conservation Activities on the Alvarado Manatee Population. The Alvarado Lagoon System (ALS) in
Veracruz, Mexico, is located in the southwest part of the Gulf of Mexico and consists of 280,000 ha of
coastal and interior wetlands. It was thought that the manatee population in this region had disappeared,
although in March 1998, attention was attracted by a couple of manatee calves that were found alive in a
gillnet by local fishermen. These manatees were sent to the Veracruz Aquarium, where they are being
successfully maintained in captivity. Unfortunately, six months later another manatee calf was found in
the same region, but with pellet wounds. This calf died, although he received the same attention from the
personnel at the Veracruz Aquarium.
These events showed the urgent necessity of carrying out research and contingency activities, in order to
be able to estimate the current status of the manatee population in the ALS. With this in mind, we
formed a state working group integrating several agencies, including research institutes, non-profit and
private organizations, and the state office of Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Fishery
We held periodic meetings of the group during that year, in order to define priority work actions. Since
1999, we began to coordinate work on two projects in the ALS. The first one is developed by the
Institute de Ecologia, A.C., which has an ecological approach. The objectives of the project include
assessing the current status of the manatee population, identifying the critical areas for conservation, and
identifying current and potential threats to the manatee population and its habitat. The second project,
developed by the Instituto de Investigaciones Biol6gicas-Universidad Veracruzana and Pronatura, A. C.,
has a social and anthropological point of view. Its objectives are to know the traditional significance of
manatees, and to achieve an environmental awareness as well as attitude changes in the behavior of the
local communities towards the manatees. These projects have the financial support of the Wildlife
Preservation Trust International and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The information gathered by these studies indicates that the manatee population is small, although it has
a spatial distribution wider than was described in the most recently published documents. Unfortunately,
some of the fishermen interviewed informed us that manatees continue to be used as a food resource in
several communities throughout the region. Though manatees have been protected by Mexican
legislation since 1921, and are listed as an Endangered Species (SEMARNAP, 1994), poaching
activities continue up to now. In many cases this is due to ignorance of the legal protection; nevertheless,
even when there is knowledge of these rules, they are violated because of insufficient vigilance by the
All these circumstances obligated us to identify the critical poaching communities. In these places, we
are conducting a series of workshops that involve the participation of the local people, especially
fishermen. To facilitate this campaign, we have also printed educational material, such as posters,
pamphlets, and workbooks for children, all of which are distributed within the communities.
As part of a national strategy for recovery of the priority species, the 4th National Meeting of the
Technical Consultant Subcommittee for Mexican Manatee Conservation, Recovery and Management
was held during November 1999 in Veracruz City. This subcommittee is a federal initiative that gathers
specialists from the seven states where manatees are distributed. Amongst the working group's goals is
the elaboration of the Manatee Conservation and Recovery Plan in Mexico, in which strategies and
management policies for conservation are established. During this meeting the importance of protecting
the manatee population in the ALS was highlighted; and fundamental to making this protection effective
is to maintain a close collaboration with the local people.
In conclusion, there is now an important group of agencies interested in collaborating in the
conservation of the manatee population in the ALS. We have observed that this interest had never
existed for any other species in Veracruz, and that this probably has happened because of the manatees'
charismatic appearance. We should take advantage of this awareness to continue with the protection
actions, as well as to expand this cooperation within other states in the country. Alejandro Ortega-
Argueta (Instituto de Ecologia, A.C., Xalapa, Veracruz, M6xico;
Six Florida Manatees Transferred To Zoos In Ohio. In 1999, six Florida manatees were sent to zoos
in Ohio (USA). The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden accepted two manatees in March, and the
Columbus Zoo and Aquarium received four animals in June. The manatees were sent there to alleviate
crowding at Florida critical-care facilities. Manatees receiving long-term care are frequently displayed at
various oceanaria when their display does not interfere with their rehabilitation and release preparations.
(The manatee "Comet", origin-ally transferred to the Columbus Zoo, was returned to Florida in February
2000. He was released at Blue Spring State Park into the upper St. Johns River, where he appears to be
Both Ohio facilities use natural Florida habitats as settings for their exhibits. Included in these exhibits
are extensive educational displays that describe these habitats, wildlife, threats, and conservation efforts.
The displays incorporate native plants and animals, sounds, photographs, graphics displays, interactive
computer games, docents, and many other activities in their efforts to educate the public. With
visitorship at the parks in the millions, efforts to educate people outside of Florida about manatees have
been significantly enhanced.
The opening of the Cincinnati Zoo's exhibit was delayed by a fire on May 20, 1998. The fire, of
unknown origin, destroyed most of the exhibit as zoo staff were putting the finishing touches on the
displays. Fortunately there was no loss of life, human or otherwise, and the zoo was able to secure funds
to rebuild the exhibit through insurers and private donors. The zoo had originally planned to open the
exhibit in July 1998. Jim Valade (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Jacksonville, Florida)
Aragones, L., and H. Marsh, 1999. Impact of dugong grazing and turtle cropping on tropical seagrass
communities. Pacific Conservation Biology 5: 277-288.
Bowen, W.D., and D.B. Siniff. 1999. Distribution, population biology, and feeding ecology of marine
mammals. Chap. 9 in: Reynolds, J.E., III and S.A. Rommel (eds.). Biology of marine mammals.
Washington & London, Smithsonian Inst. Press (578 pp.): 423-484.
Boyd, I.L., C. Lockyer, and H.D. Marsh. 1999. Reproduction in marine mammals. Chap. 6 in: Reynolds,
J.E., III and R.R. Reeves (eds.). Biology of marine mammals. Washington & London, Smithsonian Inst.
Press (578 pp.): 218-286.
Butler, A., and P. Jernaoff. 1999. Seagrass in Australia. Strategic review and development of an R&D
Plan. CSIRO Publishing, P.O. Box 1139, Collingwood, Australia.
Costa, D.P., and T.M. Williams. 1999. Marine mammal energetic. Chap. 5 in: Reynolds, J.E., III and S.
A. Rommel (eds.). Biology of marine mammals. Washington & London, Smithsonian Inst. Press (578
Cowan, D.F. 2000. Pathologist's report [on a manatee stranded in Texas]. Texas Stranding Newsletter,
April 2000: 5.
Davies, J., K. Higgenbottom, D. Noack, H. Ross, and E.Young. 1999. Sustaining Eden. Indigenous
community wildlife management in Australia. Evaluating Eden Series No.1: 126 pp. Biodiversity
Group, International Institute for Environment and Development, London.
DiEdwardo, J.A. 2000. Follow the manatee trail. RoadSmart (Amoco Motor Club), Winter 2000: 22-25.
Domning, D.P. 1999. Oligocene Sirenia of the Caribbean region. Appendix 1 (p. 29) in: H.L. Dixon and
S.K. Donovan, Report of a field meeting to the area around Browns Town, parish of St. Ann, north-
central Jamaica, 21st February 1998. Jour. Geol. Soc. Jamaica 33: 24-30.
Domning, D.P. 2000. The readaptation of Eocene sirenians to life in water. Historical Biology 14: 115-
Elsner, R. 1999. Living in water: solutions to physiological problems. Chap. 3 in: Reynolds, J.E., III and
S.A. Rommel (eds.). Biology of marine mammals. Washington & London, Smithsonian Inst. Press (578
Eros, C., R. Bonde, T.J. O'Shea, C. Beck, H. Marsh, C. Recchia, and K. Dobbs, in press. Procedures for
the Salvage and Necropsy of the Dugong (Dugong dugon). GBRMPA Technical Report, Great Barrier
Reef Marine Park Authority, P.O. Box 1139, Townsville, Australia.
Feiler, A. 1999. Ausgestorbene Saugetiere, Typusexemplare und bemerkenswerte Lokalserien von
Saugetieren aus der Sammlung des Staatlichen Museums ffir Tierkunde Dresden (Mammalia). Zool.
Abh. Staatl. Mus. Tierkd. Dresden 50(2)(21): 401-414. [Engl. summ. Lists the elements making up a
partial composite skeleton of Hydrodamalis gigas in Dresden.]
Geraci, J.R., J. Harwood, and V.J. Lounsbury. 1999. Marine mammal die-offs: causes, investigations,
and issues. Chap. 17 in: J.R. Twiss, Jr., and R.R. Reeves (eds.). Conservation and management of
marine mammals. Washington & London, Smithsonian Inst. Press (471 pp.): 367-395.
Grubb, P., T.S. Jones, A.G. Davies, E. Edberg, E.D. Starin, and J.E. Hill. 1998. Mammals of Ghana,
Sierra Leone and The Gambia. St. Ives, Trendrine Press. [T. senegalensis, 138-139.]
Hinze, C., and M. Palomo. 2000. Dugong (Dugong dugon). Texas Stranding Newsletter, April 2000: 8.
Hope Vale Community (1999). A Guugu Yimmithirr Bama Wii. A turtle and dugong hunting
management plan. Hope Vale Community, 4871, Australia.
Inuzuka, N., M. Kimura, N. Kohno, and H. Sawamura (eds.). 2000. Evolution of Desmostylia:
incorporating the proceedings] of the Desmostylian Symposium of the Fossil Research Society of Japan
16th Annual Meeting held at the Ashoro Museum of Paleontology, Hokkaido, Japan, 22-23 August
1998. Bull. Ashoro Mus. Pal. No. 1: 1-172. [Includes 12 papers, in English and Japanese, on the
paleoecology, morphology, phylogeny, systematics, and biomechanics of desmostylians, including
descriptions of new genera and species.]
Lawler, I., and H. Marsh, in press. An unlikely farmer can dugongs grow their own grass? BBC
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Paldobiol. (Geneva) 18(1): 197-220.
Marsh, H. 2000. Evaluating management initiatives aimed at reducing the mortality of dugongs in gill
and mesh nets in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. Marine Mammal Science 16(3).
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SIRENIAN WEBSITE DIRECTORY
The Call of the Siren (Caryn Self Sullivan):
Caribbean Environment Programme, Regional Management Plan for the West Indian Manatee:
Caribbean Stranding Network:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Bureau of Protected Species Management:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Florida Marine Research Institute (Florida
manatee mortality data):
Jacksonville University (Florida) Manatee Research Center Online:
News clippings on Florida manatees:
Philippines Dugong Research and Conservation Project:
Save the Manatee Club:
Sea World of Florida:
Sirenews (texts of current and recent issues):
Sirenia Project, U.S. Geological Survey: or
Smithsonian Institution sirenian bibliography:
[This is a relatively short bibliography, compiled by Joy Gold, that provides a very good introduction to
both the technical and the popular literature.]
Steller's sea cow: ; also the website [in
Finnish] of Dr. Ari Lampinen, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland:
Just prior to press time, Sirenews learned from Caryn Self Sullivan of a "Manatee Watchers" Internet
discussion list which is said to be available as a tool to exchange sirenian information with the public
(). No other details are available at this time.
CHANGES OF ADDRESS
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission [formerly Dept. of Environmental Protection], OES
- Bureau of Protected Species Management, 620 South Meridian St., Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600,
USA (tel.: 1-850-922-4330; fax: 1-850-922-4338)
Florida Marine Research Institute, 100 8th Ave. SE, St. Petersburg, Florida 33701 USA (phone: 1-727-
Ester Quintana, Marine Mammal Program, Mote Marine Lab, 1600 Ken Thompson Pkwy., Sarasota,
Dr. Galen B. Rathbun, P. 0. Box 202, Cambria, California 93428-0202
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