NUMBER 38 OCTOBER 2002
IN THIS ISSUE: FLORIDA MANATEE DEATHS HIT RECORD HIGH (p. 7)
DUGONG HABITAT THREATENED IN OKINAWA (p. 10)
DUGONG STATUS SURVEYED IN VIETNAM AND
CAMBODIA (p. 11)
EDITORIAL: MOVING THE GOALPOSTS IN FLORIDA
On October 9, 2002, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC)
released a preliminary report recommending that the Florida manatee be down-listed from
endangered to threatened. This may (or may not) do significant damage to manatee conservation.
According to their press release:
"The preliminary biological status review has been sent to a panel for external scientific
review. Because this is a preliminary report, that has not yet undergone peer review, the
recommendation is only that and is subject to change. Based on peer evaluations, staff will
produce the final biological status report and present their recommendation to the
Commission during their January meeting. If the Florida manatee is down-listed protections
will still be in place. Before any change to the status of the manatee could be implemented
a management plan will have to be developed for the species."
Thus the change in the manatees' status proposed in this document is not yet official; and even if
it becomes official, federal laws may preclude actual weakening of manatee protection measures
already in place. But at the very least, it provides a propaganda weapon to opponents of manatee
protection, because it gives official credence to the claim that Florida manatees are no longer
Of course, U.S. political scandals in recent years have reminded us to pay close attention to the
definitions of words used by lawyers. In this case, it all depends on what the meaning of
"endangered" is, because (as explained in the following editorial by Pat Rose) we're not all
reading from the same dictionary. DPD
In early October, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWCC) finished its
preliminary review of the currently endangered manatee population's status and found that it
meets their definition for "Threatened."
Some fishing and boating groups are rejoicing. They are getting what they wanted -- a declaration
by the state of Florida that manatees are no longer endangered. Never mind that manatees are still
listed as endangered under the federal Endangered Species Act. Never mind that anywhere else in
the world manatees would still be considered endangered if these same standards were applied.
Never mind that the FWCC review found the Florida manatee population might be reduced by
more than 50 percent within the next 45 years. And don't forget that a new record for manatees
being killed by boats is being set nearly every week.
What changed, you may ask, to bring about this miraculous recovery? They simply changed the
definition of the classification. "What's in a name?" Shakespeare asked. This time, a name could
have dire and lasting consequences.
We can no sooner eliminate poverty and save starving children by lowering the definition of
poverty than we can recover an endangered species by raising the standards for it to qualify as
endangered. Yet this is just what the state of Florida has done. They did it to the federally listed
endangered red-cockaded woodpecker, because of pressure from logging and development
interests, and they are about to do it to the federally listed endangered manatee, because of
pressure from boating and marine industry interests.
Faced with a continuation of accelerating boating-related manatee mortality and the prospects of
new slow speed zones in order to protect manatees from increasing numbers of boating strikes, a
recreational fishing group, the Coastal Conservation Association, petitioned the FWCC last year
to reevaluate the endangered status of manatees. Knowing that in 1999, following heavy lobbying
from the legislature, the FWCC made it much more difficult for species to be listed as
endangered or threatened, the fishing group hoped that by forcing the FWCC to review the status
of the manatee population under their new, much stricter criteria, manatees would not meet the
new definition for endangered.
You see, although the FWCC had adopted the basic listing criteria used by the International
Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) for classifying imperiled species, they
conspicuously elected to use different titles or names for these classifications. Under the modified
language, in order for manatees to remain classified as Endangered, they would now have to meet
the IUCN standards for Critically Endangered, which means a species may have to undergo or be
at the risk of undergoing an 80 percent decline in its population. Similarly, in order for manatees
to even be classified as threatened, they would have to meet the IUCN standards for Endangered
[the IUCN definitions can be found at
IUCN Critically Endangered = FWCC Endangered;
IUCN Endangered = FWCC Threatened.
Under the new criteria, the FWCC has made it almost impossible for any species currently listed
as endangered on the state's protected species list to remain so. The federal Marine Mammal
Commission (MMC) has stated that even the critically endangered northern right whale, with a
population of around 300 individuals, would not continue to be listed as endangered under the
state's too-stringent criteria. The MMC also stated that the FWCC's criteria "as currently
formulated are fundamentally flawed and inappropriate for marine mammals, as well as sea
turtles and perhaps certain other species" and strongly recommended the manatee retain its
endangered status and that the state revise its criteria.
The findings of the FWCC review should serve as a warning that we must reduce human-related
manatee mortality and other negative impacts to manatees and their habitat. Certainly, with
record-breaking manatee mortality from watercraft collisions (85 deaths, or 33 percent of all
mortalities so far this year), and more and more boats operating in manatee habitat every day,
manatees need all the help we can give them.
Save the Manatee Club maintains that the state criteria need to be modified in order to be
meaningful for the evaluation of long-lived marine mammals such as the manatee. The FWCC
should immediately convene a scientific panel to develop appropriate species-specific listing
It should be a wake-up call for everyone who loves manatees that their protected status under
Florida law presently hinges on a question of semantics. Playing word games doesn't change the
reality of the serious and increasing threats manatees are facing for their long-term survival, as
clearly described in the FWCC status review. The manatee's status should remain unchanged
until they are adequately protected, their habitat is secured, and a healthy, sustainable population
is ensured for many generations to come. Patrick M. Rose (Director of Government
Relations, Save the Manatee Club) (Reprinted from the Daytona Beach News-Journal, Oct. 10,
SIRENIAN GENETICS WORKING GROUP
I am in the process of tabulating a list of Who's Who in the sirenian genetics community. If you
have been working on a related genetics project, or are presently working on a genetics
component of research, or know someone who plans to or is, please contact Bob Bonde
(email@example.com) of the U.S. Geological Survey. I would like your detailed contact information
(name, address, phone number, and e-mail address) and a brief paragraph on your project design
and accomplishments to date. I would also like to form a Genetics Working Group and would add
your name to a list of active researchers. Perhaps we could even develop an electronic newsletter,
look at ways of communicating and sharing information, and trouble-shoot communal problems
in a group format. Robert K. Bonde (Biologist Sirenia Project, U.S. Geological Survey,
Florida Caribbean Science Center, 412 N.E. 16th Avenue, Room 250, Gainesville, Florida 32601-
3701; phone: (352)372-2571 ext.17; fax: (352)374-8080)
In Sirenews No. 33 (April 2000) you mention our company. You are of the opinion that there is
little known about the "true" status of African manatees in the wild.
In recent years there were at least two [major] researches on Trichechus senegalensis in
Guinea-Bissau: [one by] Schuhmann et al. (1996) published in Natur und Museum (Frankfurt),
and [one] by ICN Portugal (1998). Both expeditions came to the same result of very strong
populations of this species in all the greater freshwater rivers on the mainland as well as in the
Also it is not [true that] there is "continued commerce" in this species. The demand [for
captive animals] will be world-wide very [much] less than the annual export quota of 6 animals in
Guinea-Bissau. The locals capture much more of them just to eat them. M. Schuhmann (River
I wish to announce the "official opening" of the Fundaci6n Salvemos al Manati de Costa Rica' s
website (www.fundacionmanati.org). I think that it is a good showcase of the things that we've
been doing in the region since I started working with manatees as an M. Sc. student until now, and
a good way to be grateful to the organizations who have funded our work during the last years.
Though the site has been thought to fill what I consider a great gap of information about
manatees in the Spanish-speaking community, we have also designed an English version of our
website to share our results, documents and future plans with the wider manatee community and
our funding sources. The English version has not been thoroughly reviewed for spelling and
grammatical errors but I think it will fulfil its role until then. I hope you enjoy it. Ignacio
It is our pleasure to bring to your knowledge the launch of The Latin American Journal of
Aquatic Mammals (LAJAM). The journal aims to promote and disseminate scientific knowledge
concerning aquatic mammals and their environment in Latin America. Ideally, such knowledge
will be developed through collaboration among scientists from many countries and various
disciplines. For several years there has been discussion within the Latin American Society for
Aquatic Mammals (SOLAMAC) about the importance of producing a journal of this kind.
Members of the Society have expressed differing views on the subject, and as a consequence the
journal's gestation has taken longer than many of us had hoped it would. Despite obvious
progress in the quantity and quality of aquatic mammal science in Latin America during the last
decade, the dissemination of scientific knowledge has been limited. The SOLAMAC believes the
Journal is an appropriate way to expand the frontiers. The success of the Journal will depend on
the dedication and good will of all members of the Society and researchers. All members of
SOLAMAC, aquatic mammal researchers and students are invited to be a part of this challenge.
The LAJAMwill be published twice a year in English. Additional information, including the
'guide to authors' can be obtained from the SOLAMAC webpage (www.solamac.org) or by
contacting the editors (firstname.lastname@example.org).
The inaugural volume of the journal (Special Issue on the Biology and Conservation of the
Franciscana) has just come out and will be officially launched during the 10th South American
Conference on Aquatic Mammals/4th Meeting of the Latin American Society for Aquatic
Mammals to be held from 14 to 19 October in Valdivia, Chile. Eduardo R. Secchi and
Salvatore Siciliano, Managing Editors
CALL FOR PROPOSALS
Sirenian International is a grassroots organization dedicated to worldwide manatee and
dugong conservation through research and education. We are interested in sponsoring research,
conservation, and education projects focused on manatees and/or dugongs around the world, with
priority given to projects in developing nations where funding is traditionally difficult to secure.
Typical awards are US $500 $1,000.
There is no deadline for application; proposals are accepted year-round. HOWEVER,
grants are awarded subject to review by our Scientific Advisory Council and the availability of
funds. Please send a preliminary email to Sirenian International Grant Proposals (c/o
email@example.com) to determine current availability of funds and status of the review process,
which is semi-annual and roughly correlated with Sirenews publication dates of April and
In keeping with our mission of sirenian conservation through inter-cultural collaboration,
we encourage networking, community outreach, and student development components in all
proposals. We will use the following criteria to evaluate grant proposals:
Involvement of recognized representatives of host countries (e.g., governmental agencies,
NGOs, academic institutions, local students) in the planning, implementation and/or
evaluation of the proposed project.
Inclusion of local people/communities in project design, implementation, data collection,
data reduction, etc.
Sound project design, meeting the standards of peer review.
Demonstrated effectiveness at presenting results to popular and technical audiences.
Intent to publish findings at scientific meetings, in peer-reviewed journals and/or through
the public media (e.g., popular magazines, newsletters, radio, TV, Internet).
Plan for educational outreach prior to, during, and/or after the conclusion of the project (e.
g., newsletter articles, local presentations).
Each grant recipient agrees to register with Sirenian International as a Participating Member and
to submit information about their project to SI for use on our website and in our newsletters. To
apply for a small grant, please submit the following:
Cover letter, briefly outlining your request for funds (1-2 pages).
A concise proposal (5-10 pages) that includes:
relevance of project and appropriate background information, including a literature
clearly stated objectives and how the anticipated results of the project relate to the
stated goals of any appropriate manatee or dugong conservation efforts within your
host country or at the regional level if your host country has no conservation
clearly stated methods, estimated duration of the project, and plans for follow-up,
application of results, and/or future work;
resume or CV (1-2 pages) for each project leader;
detailed budget (1-2 pages), including matching funds if necessary to complete project, and
whether matching funds are applied for or already secured.
two (min.) to three (max.) letters of recommendation (1-2 pages), complete with your
reference's contact information (e-mail addresses and phone numbers preferred). If you
are a student, one letter should be from your academic advisor; if you are working within
an organization, one letter should be from your supervisor or executive director.
Important: If you are working as a visiting researcher/conservationist/educator
outside of your own homeland, one reference must come from a local collaborator.
IMPORTANT: Electronic submissions in English are preferred. Combine the cover letter,
proposal, CV, budget, etc., in ONE file and send as an attachment to e-mail [MSWord document
(.doc) or Rich Text Format (.rtf)]. DO NOT use fancy formatting; DO NOT include images or
photos in the document. Please ask your references to send letters without any images or
logos. Submit to . For more information about Sirenian International,
please visit our website at or contact Caryn Self Sullivan (200
Stonewall Drive, Fredericksburg, VA 22401 USA; e-mail: ). Sirenian
International, Inc., is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c)(3) organization incorporated in Virginia,
Offshore Oil Drilling Defeated. Plans to open Costa Rica's Talamanca coast to oil
drilling have been killed by the Costa Rican government, following two years of protests on
behalf of the region's wildlife (including manatees), indigenous population, and ecotourism
industry. The U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) helped in expanding the
Drilling rights had been lobbied for by Harken Costa Rica Holdings, a company co-
owned by MKJ-Xplorations and Harken Energy, a Houston-based oil and gas company with ties
to U.S. President George W. Bush. NRDC is seeking to obtain State Department documents
detailing how the Bush administration may have pressured the Cosat Rican government on behalf
of Harken interests. (Source: NRDC newsletter Nature's Voice, Jan./Feb. and Sept./Oct. 2002)
Manatee Deaths Hit Record High. Watercraft-related manatee mortality has reached an
all-time record high of 83 deaths as of late September. On September 26, a manatee died at the
Sea World of Florida rehabilitation facility in Orlando, Florida. The manatee had been struck by
a boat in Brevard County in July 2002. This recent manatee death also sets a new all-time record
high of 14 watercraft deaths in Brevard County, which also leads the state in total manatee
In general, about 25% of manatee deaths can be attributed to boat strikes, said Tom Pitchford of
the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission's
Pathobiology Laboratory. "Last year there were 81 manatees killed by boats,
which is about average for the past three years," he said. So far this year, however, 33% of
manatee deaths have been from collisions with boats, as of September.
Since the early 1990s, boat registration in Florida has more than doubled. Presently, there are
over 900,000 boats registered in Florida and approximately 400,000 boats registered in other
states using Florida's waterways.
Statistics from the Florida Marine Research Institute show that most watercraft-related
manatee deaths are attributed to impacts from the boat hull or lower unit of the motor rather than
propeller cuts. Because they feed on aquatic vegetation, they prefer shallow waters where there is
often not enough clearance for a boat hull to pass safely over a manatee's back. Therefore, any
fast-moving boat can injure or kill a manatee.
To put these numbers in some perspective, the total annual Florida manatee mortality in
recent years has been in the range of 7-13% of the highest statewide minimum population count
ever recorded (3,276 in 2001). This is about the same as some estimates of the manatee's intrinsic
rate of increase, indicating that the population may already be barely able or unable to replace
losses of this magnitude, and certainly could not sustain much of an increase in mortality rate
without going into a decline. (Sources: St. Peters-burg Times, July 10, 2002; FMRI.)
"Manatee Chow" Developed. Manatees at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
primarily eat romaine lettuce and other greens. Now a researcher suggests the park could save
another kind of green cash by altering the sea cows' diet.
In recent months, the park has fed its nine manatees a new chow that University of Florida
(UF) veterinarian Paul Cardeilhac developed. The nuggets are a concentration of all the
nutritional ingredients the captive creatures would pick up if they were munching weeds in the
Each manatee consumes 50 or more pounds of lettuce per day, so Cardeilhac estimates the
park could save US$73,000 per year by feeding them his chow along with lesser amounts of
lettuce and other vegetables.
Because the food has a concentrated nutrient density, a manatee would need just 22
pounds of the chow a day at an annual cost of US$2,000. Fresh produce could cost US$18,000
per year for each animal.
"The manatees in captivity are there primarily because of injuries caused by humans,"
Cardeilhac was quoted as saying in a UF news release. "It's our responsibility to take care of
those animals. We don't want the cost of feed to be prohibitive of keeping a manatee in captivity
as long as needed."
The nine manatees in Homosassa Springs are among 43 manatees in captivity nationwide.
Park visitors can observe the gentle giants.
The park manatees get the nuggets which consist of alfalfa, soybean meal and hulls,
kelp, wheat and vitamins and minerals as a part of the daily manatee shows. The nuggets also
float, although when dropped in the park's feeding area known as the "salad bar" they tend to
get snatched by the wild sheepshead that share the fishbowl area with the manatees, according to
veterinarian Mark Lowe.
Lowe said he is monitoring the manatees closely to make sure the new food doesn't cause
more problems than it might solve. Manatees are built to process large quantities of vegetation
every day, so lettuce and carrots will always be part of their menu at the park.
"There is no way I would ever dare stop that. Manatees are a browser, a grazing type of
animal," Lowe said.
"My manatees in Homosassa are fat and I was hoping to give them something that might
help them lose 100 pounds or so," Lowe said. That means the chow that has been used so far,
which was designed to be highly digestible and packed with calories, would not be good in the
long run to feed the Homosassa captive herd. It was basically created to help captive injured
animals who need concentrated nutrition.
No problem. Cardeilhac, who is a professor at UF's College of Veterinary Medicine and Institute
of Food and Agricultural Sciences, has devised a second formula for manatee maintenance. Lowe
said that version soon will be tried at the park. It is less digestible and contains fewer calories. -
Barbara Behrendt (St. Petersburg Times, October 16, 2002)
5,500,000 More Floridians by 2025. A new report by Negative Population Growth (NPG)
estimates that if Florida does not institute a plan to limit population growth, it can expect more
than 5.5 million new residents to its present population of over 16 million in the next 25 years,
further overwhelming the infrastructure and damaging the environment for people, manatees, and
other wildlife alike.
An NPG poll in 1999 found that over 70% of Florida voters believe overcrowding and
overpopulation is a major problem in the state; nearly 60% believe that adding 5 million more
people is a serious problem; and 68% agree that "Florida would be better-off in the long term
with a smaller population."
In a related development, the St. Petersburg Times reported on Nov. 10, 2001, that an internal
document of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), prepared over the previous summer by
the FWS Vero Beach office and labeled "Not For Release", had come to light as part of the
manatee-protection lawsuit filed by the Save the Manatee Club and other environmental groups.
In it, FWS officials wrote that if there were enough officers on the waterways enforcing boat-
speed regulations, "then the number of boats on the water ... would largely be irrelevant." They
calculated that because the state had recently hired 25 new game officers and reassigned 23 more
to manatee protection duties, Florida could add 369,920 more boat slips over the next 10 years.
Currently, the state averages about 5,000 new slips a year.
Environmental advocates said that they were appalled at the philosophy expressed in the
document, and that it undercut the whole premise of having individual Florida counties develop
their own manatee protection plans a process that has been underway since 1989. These plans
are premised in large part on the critical need to control the number of boats in manatee habitat.
For a copy of "Focus on Florida: Population, Resources, and Quality of Life", contact NPG at
1-202-667-8950 or .
Guiltless in Miami. O.J. Simpson has pleaded innocent to a charge that he sped through
a no-wake zone near Miami's downtown in a power boat, his attorney said Sept. 25. Simpson's 30-
foot boat was ticketed July 4 by a Marine Patrol officer for creating a wake in an area where
speed limits have been reduced to protect endangered manatees, authorities said. Also on board
was Simpson's ex-girlfriend, Christie Prody.
Lawyer Yale Galanter said Simpson entered his plea Sept. 17, five days after he was issued an
"affidavit of noncompliance" by a judge for failing to appear for an arraignment. Galanter said he
did not believe Simpson was required to appear in court on that date. A hearing on the boating
charge has not yet been set. Simpson chose to plead not guilty rather than pay the US$65 fine,
Simpson, 55, was acquitted of murder charges in the 1994 slaying of his wife, Nicole Brown
Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. A civil jury later held the former football star liable
for the killings and ordered him to pay the victims' survivors US$33.5 million. He continues to
maintain his innocence in the killings. (Sources: Associated Press Online; The Orlando
International Dugong Sym-posium. An International Dugong Symposium was held in Tokyo
on 28-29 September 2002. It was sponsored by the World Wide Fund for Nature Japan, the
Nature Conservation Society of Japan, and the Save Dugong Campaign Center, with the
cooperation of the Mammalogical Society of Japan.
The purpose of the symposium was to study the United Nations Environment Programme
(UNEP) "Dugong Status Report and Action Plans for Countries and Territories," adopted in Feb.
2002 , and to exchange recent
information about research and conservation activities regarding the dugong in various parts of
the world, and also to draw up an action plan for the protection of the dugongs of Okinawa.
The central to northern coastline of Okinawa Island is the only known habitat of the dugong in
Japan. This distribution area is extremely restricted and isolated from other populations, and the
number of individuals is thought to be very small. Okinawa's dugongs face serious threats from
incidental bycatch in fishing nets and plans for the construction of a military base in the middle of
their habitat [see Sirenews Nos. 31 and 34]. Protection measures are urgently needed to keep the
Okinawan population of dugongs from going extinct. The most important thing will be to stop
construction of the military base in their habitat. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Okinawa:
Landfill in Dugong Habitat Already Begun. Authorities have announced that they
would start landfill work at the Awase tidal flat area in Okinawa, beginning 8 October 2002.
The Okinawa General Bureau, the central government agency in charge of development projects
in Okinawa, has thus ignored its own Review and Monitoring Committee for the Environment.
The Committee was established to review the feasibility of large-scale mechanical transplanting
of seagrass beds at Awase. The last meeting of the Committee was held on 30 September, and
some members expressed their doubts about the feasibility of such large-scale mechanical
seagrass transplanting.. However, the Okinawa General Bureau concluded that the Committee
had spent enough time on discussion, and that the monitoring of transplanted seagrass should be
continued while construction goes ahead, with a view to improving transplanting techniques.
Meanwhile, they decided that most of the transplanting of seagrass will be carried out by hand.
Local conservation NGOs have naturally raised the question of why the Committee went to so
much trouble to study the mechanical transplantation process if transplanting by hand is feasible,
and further, whether a sufficient extent of seagrass beds can be transplanted by hand. The
rationale behind the experimental mechanical transplantation idea was that a large amount of
seagrass must be transplanted to make room for the landfill. Most NGOs oppose the project
altogether, as it would needlessly destroy one of the few remaining natural tidal flat/sea grass
wetlands in Okinawa.
It is apparent that the Okinawa General Bureau, together with the Okinawa Prefectural
Government and Okinawa City, want to start landfilling within this fiscal year no matter what
their Committee says. This is irregular procedure. Moreover, developers have paid insufficient
attention to domestic and international concern about the importance of remaining tidal flat areas
in Okinawa Island.
The Ministry of Environment published a list of "500 Important Wetlands in Japan" this year.
The Awase Tidal Flat Area is one of them. A recent survey by the same Ministry has also
revealed that the Awase area is one of the three most important sites for endangered dugongs. It is
unbelievable that the Japanese authorities would seriously embark on the destruction of such
important wetland between the Johannesburg Summit and the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands
Conference of the Parties (coming up in November).
For further information on Awase, please visit the web pages in English prepared by local
conservation NGOs: . If you would like to
express your concern over this disturbing decision, please help local NGOs in Okinawa by
sending messages to the following e-mail addresses or through those web pages:
The Prime Minister, Mr Jun-ichiro Koizumi:
The Minister in charge of Okinawa Affairs, Mr Hiroyuki Hosokawa:
The Ministry of Environment:
The Okinawa General Bureau:
The Okinawa Prefectural Gov-ernment:
Please CC to a local conservation NGO in Okinawa, to which you can also write for further
information: (Source: SIRENIAN listserv)
Tri-national Dugong Conser-vation Project in Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand, July 2002. -
Sirenian International awarded a small grant to Kanjana Adulyanukosol of the Phuket Marine
Biological Center (Phuket 83000, Thailand), enabling her to participate in the design and set-up
of a dugong and seagrass habitat research and monitoring project sponsored by the Marine and
Coastal Programme of WWF Indochina. Ms. Adulyanukosol joined Dr. Ellen Hines from San
Francisco State University, USA; Mr. Nick Cox from WWF Indochina; Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hoa
from the Institute of Oceanography, Nha Trang, Vietnam; Ms. Hoang Thi To Linh from WWF
Indochina; Mr. Phay Somany from WCS, Cambodia; and Mr. Leng Sam Ath from the
Department of Fisheries, Cambodia, for a two-week expedition in July.
Objectives During the expedition, the WWF team interviewed local fishermen and conducted
habitat surveys in Cambodia and Vietnam. The general objectives were: (1) to interview local
fishermen about the status of dugongs and seagrass; (2) to investigate fishing gear that causes
injury to dugongs and fishing gear that destroys seagrass habitat; (3) to survey seagrass areas in
order to know the density, species, and status of seagrass habitat; (4) to learn what the local
people believe about dugongs, such as the usage and sales of dugong parts as food, medicine, and
amulets, and myths/legends about dugongs; and (5) to learn the opinions of the local people
regarding dugongs and seagrass conservation. Forty people from Cambodia (20) and Vietnam
(20) were interviewed during the two-week expedition.
Results In Cambodia, from Kampot village south to Kep village, 8 species of seagrasses were
found. At present, no one studies the seagrass habitat. Few of the people interviewed knew
anything about the diversity of seagrass species in the area. However, they did know that seagrass
beds are good habitats for marine economic species such as fish, shrimp, and crabs. Trawlers
operated in the seagrass beds and contributed to destruction of the seagrass habitat. Most dugong
deaths reported were related to the fishing nets set in the seagrass beds. Local people sometimes
keep dugong parts such as dried skin, dried sex organs, skulls, ribs and other bones for luck;
some have collected dugong parts over a 10-year period. Some people believe dugong bone
powder (especially from the ribs) can cure fever and that dugong oil heals a wound. Dugong teeth
are used to make necklaces, ribs are carved into amulets, and dugong tusks bring a high price. No
reports of dugong legends or myths were recorded. Since 1979, when Pol Pot was deposed and
fishermen were allowed to return to the sea, all marine creatures have decreased in the areas
surveyed, including dugongs.
In Vietnam, 20 persons from Con Dao Island and Phu Quoc Island were interviewed.
Nine species of seagrass were reported. During the survey at Con Dao, the WWF team observed
an abundance of Halophila ovalis at Lo Voi Bay. Unfortunately, no dugongs were seen at Dat
Doc Bay during a 3-hour observation period. Con Dao Island seems to be good habitat for
dugongs because of its remote location and the fact that much of its area (both on land and in the
sea) lies within the Con Dao National Park. Park regulations protect coral and seagrass resources,
and marine organisms especially the endangered dugongs and sea turtles. Despite the protection
afforded to dugongs in the park, 10 animals have died since 1997. There are (probably) no big
users of fishing gear, such as trawlers, operating in the area. One local reported that dugong ribs
are used to make pipes.
Historically, a large group of dugongs inhabited the waters around Phu Quoc Island, especially
along the east coast. Abundant seagrass habitat was observed and 9 species of seagrass were
reported. In the recent past, 5-6 dugong hunters have been known to take dugongs near Phu
Quoc Island; some were interviewed. Hunters used a special net, called a "sting ray gillnet", to
catch dugongs, green turtles, sharks, and rays. One to two dugongs were harvested per year, and
sometimes a cow-calf pair was taken -- a cow-calf pair was only counted as one individual by the
fishermen. Dugongs greatly increase income as every part of the dugong can be sold. The tusk is
the most expensive, followed by the skin and meat, respectively. Locals here also ground the rib
into a powder that could cure fever. The oldest dugong hunter, having 60 years' experience,
decorated the wall of his house with dugong ribs, which were used for hanging his hat and shirt.
Dugong hunters always kept a pair of tusks for luck. If they got longer tusks they would sell the
shorter ones -- longer tusks were more valuable than shorter ones.
Comments The Cambodian fishermen know that the marine organisms are now decreasing and
they care about conservation of coastal resources, including dugongs and seagrass. The basic
issues in Cambodia are the reduction or banning of near-shore trawler operations and the banning
of surrounding net operations within the seagrass beds. In general, local people have poor
education; more education is needed, especially about coastal conservation and management.
Officers from the Cambodian Ministry of Fisheries also play an important role in dugong and
Most Vietnamese fishermen do not have the same conservation concerns about dugongs,
sea turtles, and seagrass habitats. They believe that whether they kill or do not kill the dugongs,
there will still be dugongs in the sea. As for sea turtles, they observe that they lay many eggs and
many hatchlings return to the sea, so many locals don't believe that the turtles will become
extinct. There are still active dugong hunters in Vietnam. three hunters were interviewed,
including one who has also trained his son. In general, conservation education is urgently needed
in Vietnam. Cambodia and Vietnam are currently considering endangered species legislation, a
necessary component to conservation efforts in both nations. WWF Indochina is seeking funds to
act on the findings and recommendations of this survey. Kanjana Adulyanukosol (report
edited by Ellen Hines, Nick Cox and Caryn Self Sullivan)
Manatee Research in the Bight of Benin. A field research and conservation project on
West African manatees in countries around the Bight of Benin (Benin, Togo, and parts of Nigeria
and Ghana) is being planned by Jean-Paul Risch. It will involve both visiting (mostly European)
and local researchers, as well as collaborators from NGOs. For further information and an outline
of the proposed project, contact Jean-Paul Risch, 86, Kohlenberg, L-1870 Luxembourg (tel./fax:
(+352) 48 16 89).
The following abstracts are of presentations at the XXVII International Meeting for the
Study of Marine Mammals held in Veracruz, Mexico, 12-15 May 2002.
Manatee Outreach Programs in Latin America: Helping People Help Endangered Species.
Gregory D. Bossart Division of Marine Mammal Research and Conservation, Harbor Branch Oceanographic
Institution, 5600 US 1 North, Ft. Pierce, FL 34946, USA
Conservation outreach programs involving the medical care and rehabilitation of Antillean manatees (Trichechus
manatus manatus) and Amazonian manatees (Trichechus inunguis) have been established in Guyana, Brazil,
Trinidad, Colombia, Belize, and Mexico through the Division of Marine Mammal Research and Conservation at
Harbor Branch. These outreach programs support emerging conservation projects in these countries. The projects
range in infrastructure organization, personnel support and scientific and philosophical goals. The manatee
components of these projects have been either planned or accidental, the latter generally involving the presentation of
a dependent orphaned manatee calf. Orphaned calves are typically presented as a consequence of opportunistic
hunting of the dam. Veterinarians from Harbor Branch have provided veterinary medical consultations for injured,
sick and fishery-interaction animals in these countries. Consultations have been made via the Internet, telephone and
on-site visits. Medical supplies, natural manatee milk, artificial milk formulas and manatee immunoglobulins have
been sent via air express delivery. Additionally, on 10 occasions, on-site assistance has been provided. The site visits
were structured as animal care and teaching programs and included aspects of manatee husbandry, veterinary
medicine and natural history. The care of orphaned manatees has represented the most common situation. Manatee
calf care is a complex issue and involves husbandry (caretaker experience, habitat, life support, artificial milk
formulation, etc.) and medical issues. Calf medical problems generally include treatment of the metabolic effects of
prolonged inanition and life-threatening gastrointestinal inflammation that is due to probable combined
immunologic, artificial nursing formula and infectious disease factors. The facilities in Brazil, Mexico, Colombia,
and Belize, either have or are in the process of reintroducing rehabilitated animals to a free-ranging state. Other
facilities are maintaining manatees in captivity for educational purposes. This presentation will describe this unique
conservation program that has shown that the wildlife veterinarian can play an important role in emerging
endangered species conservation programs throughout the world.
Behavior of Two West Indian Manatees (Trichechus Manatus Manatus) Kept in a Controlled Area at Puerto
Aventuras, Quintana Roo, Mexico.
Antonio Mauricio Cortez Aguilarl, Roberto Sanchez Okrucky1 & Gregory D. Bossart2.
1. Dolphin Discovery. Blvd. Kukulkdn km 5. Playa Langosta Local 10. Cancun, Quintana Roo. 77500.
2. Division ofMarine Mammal Research and Conservation, Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution.
5600 US 1 North, Ft. Pierce, FL 34946, USA.
In August, 2001 two West Indian manatees, a male and a female, coming from Jonuta, Tabasco arrived at the
Dolphin Discovery facility in Puerto Aventuras. The area where they are living is a 497 m2 deposit of sea water with
sources of freshwater coming from several cenotes. The area is divided into five different zones, each with distinctive
characteristics. During the months of November and December of 2001 and January of 2002, behavioral observations
were carried out by means of continuous focal sampling. These observations were made in periods of 20 minutes
throughout the day, with each behavioral event being monitored in the area where the manatees were found at that
moment. We made observations for 46 days bringing a total of 104 hr and 20 min of accumulated observation time.
The behaviors displayed most frequently were: Feeding (27.4%), Stay over the bottom (19.9%), Grazing (18.5%),
Belly retraction (16.9%) and Swimming or moving towards a defined direction (12.5%). The correlation of the
behavior with the hour in which it was recorded turned out to be significant (P < 0.01) as well as that of occupation
or area preference by sex (P < 0.01). Both animals showed a marked preference for the deepest area which also
happens to be the area where they are fed. This early behavior analysis will serve as a basis to analyze later behavior
changes as their environment and daily activities change when they are integrated into an interactive program for the
purpose of environmental education.
Mortality of Manatees (Trichechus manatus) in Chetumal Bay, Mexico (1990 2002).
Benjamin Morales Vela, Janneth Padilla Saldivar & Mauro Sanvicente L6pez.
El Colegio de la Frontera Sur, Unidad Chetumal. Carretera Chetumal Bacalar km 2. Zona Industrial 2. Chetumal,
Quintana Roo. 77049. MEXICO.
From 1990 to 2002, 24 dead manatees have been recorded in Chetumal Bay (CHB). For 17 manatees the cause of
death was unidentified, but it was determined that seven died due to a variety of human activities (two because of
fishing nets, two due to collisions with watercraft, two were wounded and one was hunted). This sample consisted of
13 adults, six young manatees and five calves. These records are considered as a sample as consistent monitoring and
surveillance are not carried out along the entire CHB shoreline. The recovered bone samples are deposited in the
Zoology Museum of ECOSUR at Chetumal. Fishing nets set in shallow waters and watercraft traffic occasionally
cause accidental manatee deaths. The impact of the various activities developing in the CHB and Hondo River
margins must be evaluated. The regulations governing use that are included in the Manatee Sanctuary management
program must be enforced in order to minimize risks that threaten this species and the integrity of its habitat. Signs
warning of the manatees' presence, informing of their protected status, and regulating boat speed are prioritary for
The Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in the Lagoon System o Catazaja, Chiapas: A Prospective Study.
Jacqueline Nufiez Saldafia.
Escuela Superior de Ingenieria Mecdnica y Elictrica, Instituto Politicnico Nacional. MEXICO.
From November 1999 to July 2000, four trips were made to the lagoon system of Catazajia, Chiapas. The localities of
Playas de Catazajia, Pajonal, Paraiso and Zaragoza were visited to interview fishermen, other inhabitants as well as
local and regional authorities. A total of 65 written sheets were obtained together with data on local knowledge and
uses of manatee as well as anecdotal stories of encounters with manatees in areas of fishing. This information was
completed with the information of other colleagues working in the region. Also, surveys by land and water were
carried out to make observations of breeding behavior. All this poses the urgent need to start a program for
management and conservation and thus, this work started to give information to local people for a better knowledge
and usage of their resources. An indirect management of the manatee and other regional fauna is proposed by means
of manual. Basic information is gathered for future studies on distribution and behavior of the manatees in the lagoon
system of Catazajia, Chiapas.
Conservation of the Caribbean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in the Bay of Chetumal, Quintana
Roo, Mexico: An NGO Perspective.
Adriana Yolox6chitl Olivera G6mez.
Amigos delManatiAC. Avenida Chapultepec 272 altos. Col. Centro. Chetumal, Quintana Roo. 77000. MEXICO.
Since "Amigos del Manati AC" was established formally on September 10, 1996, five broad action lines were
designed: 1) Institutional strengthening, 2) Environmental education, 3) Community development, 4) Collaboration
with the protected natural area (ANP) of Manatee Sanctuary and 5) Support to scientific research. These lines have
generated projects to deal with the challenge of manatee conservation at the Bay of Chetumal which implies an
awareness of the responsibility we must assume as citizens and as active participants of the social development
process in the South of Quintana Roo making possible to conciliate development and conservation. Our role as a non-
governmental organization has been to implement and operate these projects at rural communities inserted within the
ANP and with urban population in Chetumal as this is the main impact zone. With all this, we help to strength the
objectives of the ANP's management program. Informal environmental education has been the main action line in
two approaches: support to formal education with kindergarten, elementary and secondary school children and
education addressed to the adult population as advisors in management of their integrated coastal resources. In all of
these activities we support young people at high school and college in their professional practices and university
theses. In the near future, we expect many of them will deal with application of these efforts to reach equilibrium
between conservation and development in an area of vital importance for the manatee.
Spatial Modeling for Manatee Habitat Conservation in Alvarado, Veracruz, Mexico.
Alejandro Ortega Argueta1'2 & Miguel E. Equihua Zamora1.
1. Institute de Ecologia AC. Xalapa, Veracruz. MEXICO.
2. Institute de Investigaciones Biol6gicas, Universidad Veracruzana. Xalapa, Veracruz. MEXICO.
Suitable habitat identification and protection are two of the priority strategies for the recovery of the endangered
Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus). However, study of the manatee habitat and population in the
Alvarado wetland is difficult due to a lack of manatee aggregations and the presence of relatively turbid waters
throughout the year. All this makes it difficult to study manatees in the wild. As an alternative approach to manatee
habitat diagnosis, a predictive spatial model was developed from the geomorphological and ecological characteristics
of the region. Ecological resources for the manatee included in the model were shallow waters (1-3 m deep) and the
availability of aquatic vegetation, which provides food. Anthropogenic factors included the potential effects of
human activities on the areas frequented by manatees. These variables were incorporated into a geographic
information system (ArcView) and were analyzed using thematic digital cartography. Output maps were constructed
in a grid format, which includes a numerical attribute that quantifies each cell with a quality value. In this manner,
the 314,000 ha region was classified into four categories of important manatee habitat. Critical areas were considered
those with large values and are essential for manatee survival. These areas should also have priority attention in a
protection plan for the Alvarado lagoon system.
Advances in Manatee Conservation Efforts in Veracruz, Mexico.
Enrique Portilla Ochoa*1, Alejandro Ortega Argueta1'2, Blanca Elizabeth Cortina Julio1, Edward 0. Keith3 & Fabian
1. Institute de Investigaciones Biol6gicas, Universidad Veracruzana. Xalapa, Veracruz. MEXICO.
2. Posgrado en Manejo de Fauna Silvestre, Instituto de Ecologia AC. Xalapa, Veracruz. MEXICO.
3. Oceanographic Center, Nova Southeastern University. Dania Beach, Florida. USA.
4. Acuario de Veracruz. Veracruz, Veracruz. MEXICO.
We present a synthesis of conservation activities for the manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Veracruz State
developed during the last four years (1998-2001). The manatee is considered an endangered species throughout its
international distribution range. The threat of extinction has two main causes, poaching and habitat destruction. Both
of these influence manatees in several areas of their occurrence within Veracruz State. An interdisciplinary group has
collaborated for the last four years on research, rehabilitation, management promotion, and in an educational
campaign. Research involved an analysis of manatee spatial distribution, habitat assessment, threat analysis and the
interaction of manatees with humans. Also, a pair of manatee calves has been maintained successfully since 1998 in
the Veracruz Aquarium. With regards to management, periodic meetings with governmental agencies and local
groups have been held in order to promote manatee protection. A modest educational campaign started in the
wetlands of Alvarado. Educators are now looking to extend the campaign to the whole State. In this analysis, each
line of work is evaluated and the achievements, challenges and perspectives of each are discussed.
Proposal of a Management Plan for the Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in the Children's Park at
Silvia Deysi del Carmen Ortiz Chan & Fabiola Romero Murillo
Division Acadimica de Ciencias Biol6gicas, Universidad Judrez Aut6noma de Tabasco.
Captive manatees in Tabasco are not properly treated due to the lack of management plans that ensure their
conservation and reproduction. In this work we propose the necessary elements to elaborate a management plan
based on the criteria established by SEMARNAT for the function of an UMA (Unit for the Conservation,
Management and Sustainable Use of Wildlife). This study was made in a natural lagoon in the Children's Center at
Jonuta, Tabasco that was modified as a habitat for manatees. We recorded environment, surface and near-bottom
temperature, pH, transparency, depth and dissolved oxygen concentration every month from April 2000 to April
2001. We also characterized the area's biota to determine the factors influencing the manatees. In bacteriological
analyses, we found a higher index of fecal coliforms for September, November, February, March and May and lower
values for January. We conclude that biotic factors influence manatees because of improper management and that
abiotic factors are not restrictive for the settling of these animals.
Preliminary Results on Preferred Areas of Manatees in the Ilusiones Lagoon, Tabasco.
Ana Marina Valenzuela Riveroll & Casiano Alberto Mendez Sanchez.
Division Acadimica de Ciencias Biol6gicas, Universidad Judrez Aut6noma de Tabasco.
"Ilusiones Lagoon", an ecological reserve of Tabasco State, hosts a population of manatees which has not been
systematically studied before this thesis work and about which we present preliminary results of efforts carried out
from March 2001 to February 2002. 250 questionnaires were applied to inhabitants of the lagoon surroundings
between May 2000 and March 2001, getting sight records of manatees since 1986 with year 2000 having more
sightings. In accordance with the information gained, 10 monitoring sites were selected and visited twice every
month in morning, noon and afternoon using a 15 HP outboard boat to complete a total of 76 hours of effort. The
presence of manatees was registered by direct observation in 9 out of the 10 monitoring sites. Feeding areas were
identified and general aspects of behavior were recorded.
Hematological Values for Manatee Calves (Trichechus manatus manatus) up to Two Years Old in Captivity,
Fabian Francisco Vanoye Lara. Acuario de Veracruz, AC.
This work was done in the Veracruz Aquarium, where two manatees have been kept since March 6, 1998. These
manatees are called Silvia and Pablo and at the moment of their arrival, they weighed and measured 1.07 m with 23
kg and 1.05 m with 22 kg respectively, being about 1.5 months old. During this study they stayed in a circular tank of
6 m diameter, variable depth of 0.75 m to 2 m and continuously filtered water. The manatees were changed afterward
to an exhibition tank of 30 m3. They were fed with special milk, and vegetables were offered little by little. Blood
samples were obtained, using vacuum tubes to avoid coagulation, from the brachial plexus (after a year of age) and
from the ventral face of the fluke (under a year of age). A total of 13 samples were taken from Silvia for hemogram
and blood chemistry. From Pablo, 15 samples were taken for hemogram and 14 for blood chemistry. Sampling
started in March 1998 and ended in March 2000. The laboratory results did not report the presence of metamielocitic,
in band, eosinophil, or basophil cells.
Blaszkiewitz, B. 2000. Masse und Gewichte einer Seekuh-Friuhgeburt. Milu (Berlin) 10:
Blaszkiewitz, B. 2001. Seekuh-Zwillinge im Tierpark Berlin-Friedrichsfelde. Milu 10(4):
Bossart, G., D. Baden, R. Ewing, and S. Wright. 2002 Manatees and brevetoxicosis. In: C.
J. Pfeiffer (ed.), Molecular and Cell Biology of Marine Mammals. Krieger Publishing Co,
Melbourne, Florida: 205-212.
Gerstein, E.R. 2002. Manatees, bioacoustics and boats. Amer. Scientist 90(2): 154-163.
Jim6nez Perez, I. 2002. Heavy poaching in prime habitat: the conservation status of the
West Indian manatee in Nicaragua. Oryx 36(3).
Kipps, E.K., W.A. McLellan, S.A. Rommel, and D.A. Pabst. 2002. Skin density and its
influence on buoyancy in the manatee (Trichechus manatus latirostris), harbor porpoise
(Phocoena phocoena), and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops trunca/us). Mar. Mamm. Sci. 18
Kobayashi, S. 2002. Halitheriine Sirenia from the Itahana Formation (late Middle Miocene-
early Late Miocene) in Annaka, Gunma Prefecture, central Japan. Earth Science (Chikyu
Kagaku) 56: 179-190. [In Japanese; Engl. summ.]
Morgan, L.W., J.A. Musick, and C.W. Potter. 2002. Temporal and geographic occurrences
of cetacean strandings and manatee sightings in Virginia, with notes on adverse human-
cetacean interactions, from 1983-1989. Jour. North Carolina Acad. Sci. 118(1): 12-26.
Parr, L.A., and D.A. Duffield. 2002. Interspecific comparison of mitochondrial DNA
variation among extant species of sirenians. In: C. J. Pfeiffer (ed.), Molecular and Cell
Biology of Marine Mammals. Krieger Publishing Co, Melbourne, Florida.
Reep, R.L., C.D. Marshall, and M.L. Stoll. 2002. Tactile hairs on the postcranial body in
Florida manatees: a mammalian lateral line? Brain Behav. Evol. 59: 141-154.
Sousa-Lima, R.S., A.P. Paglia, and G.A.B. da Fonseca. 2002. Signature information and
individual recognition in the isolation calls of Amazonian manatees, Trichechus inunguis
(Mammalia: Sirenia). Animal Behaviour 63(2): 301-310.
Verdon, M. 2002. Can boaters and manatees coexist? Boating World, Mar. 2002: 89-94.
White, A.Q., G.F. Pinto, and A.P. Robison. 2002. Seasonal distribution of manatees,
Trichechus manatus latirostris, in Duval County and adjacent waters, northeast Florida.
Florida Scientist 65(3): 208-221.
Yakutchik, M. 2002. Florida's besieged manatees. Defenders, Winter 2002.
SIRENIAN WEBSITE DIRECTORY
(NOTE: Not all of these sites have been visited recently by your Editor, and some may no longer
be active, or their addresses may have changed.)
Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute's Manatee Research Program:
The Call of the Siren (Caryn Self Sullivan):
Caribbean Environment Programme, Regional Management Plan for the West Indian Manatee:
Caribbean Stranding Network:
Columbus (Ohio) Zoo manatee exhibit:
Dugong necropsy manual (available for downloading):
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): [NEW]
Friends of the Manatee Association, Manaus & Balbina, Brazil:
boi.org.br/english/Ing_index2.htm> [Includes a bibliography of INPA aquatic mammal project
publications and abstracts] [NEW]
Fundacio6n Salvemos al Manati de Costa Rica: [NEW]
Great Barrier Reef dugongs:
IBAMA manatee project, Brazil:
Jacksonville University (Florida) Manatee Research Center Online:
"Manatee Watchers" Internet discussion list:
News clippings on Florida manatees:
Philippines Dugong Research and Conservation Project:
Save the Manatee Club:
Sea World of Florida:
SEMARNAP, Secretaria de Medio Ambiente, Recursos Naturales y Pesca, Mexico:
Sirenews (texts of current and recent issues): ;
sirenian.org/> (for archive of most older issues)
Sirenia Project, U.S. Geological Survey: or
Sirenian International, Inc.: [Includes a bibliography of sirenian
literature, and an archive of Sirenews issues.]
Smithsonian Institution sirenian bibliography:
htm> [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:
West African manatee in Chad (Jonathan H. Salkind):
CHANGES OF ADDRESS
Katherine LaCommare, 40768 Mill Rd. Ct. West, Novi, Michigan 48375, USA
Alejandro Ortega Argueta, Veracruz Manatee Project, Instituto de Investigaciones
Biologicas, Universidad Veracruzana, Av. Luis Castelazo s/n, Col. Industrial Las Animas,
Km 2.5 carretera Xalapa-Veracruz, C.P. 91190, Xalapa, Veracruz, Mexico (tel. & fax:
(228) 8 12 57 57; NEW E-MAIL: )
M. Schuhmann, River Zoo-Farm, Bambadinca, Cx. P. 890 Bissau, Guinea-Bissau (satellite
phone: 00870 76162 7460; satellite fax: 00870 76162 7461; e-mail:
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