The manatee on this photograph is called Daniel. The image was taken in Mexico’s Guerrero Lagoon in July this 12 months, as I used to be assessing a small bump on his head. Fortunately, he was superb. Daniel was rescued about 20 years in the past, rehabilitated and launched, however he continues to be very connected to individuals — behaving like a pet — which is basically problematic for conservationists and ecologists like me.
That’s as a result of locals and vacationers supply Daniel meals and drinks that aren’t a part of his typical food plan, or that would hurt him by transmitting pathogens. And Daniel is a powerful, playful animal, so he might injure individuals — and even put their lives in danger.
My colleagues and I are concerned in an intensive marketing campaign to assist individuals perceive that Daniel shouldn’t be a pet. Manatees are such fantastic, clever and attention-grabbing creatures; we are able to love them with out proudly owning them.
There are three species of manatee. All of them are threatened, and one subspecies is endangered. Traditionally, manatees had been hunted by many Indigenous civilizations within the Americas. Now, they face habitat loss, and threat being struck by boats or entangled in fishing nets.
I’m engaged on a challenge within the Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve — an intensive space in Quintana Roo, the Mexican Caribbean state that additionally accommodates Guerrero Lagoon. The purpose is to evaluate how boat collisions are affecting manatee populations. Previously ten years, we’ve had six experiences of manatees being killed by boats, so we’re involved that these incidents will turn out to be extra widespread as tourism continues to extend within the space.
After 25 years working with these animals, it nonetheless offers me chills to see a wholesome manatee within the wild. We have to act quick to save lots of our endangered wildlife. It doesn’t matter what occurs by way of laws, if individuals don’t make their very own choices to look after these animals, it’s going to be unattainable for us to guard manatees and different threatened species.