September 7th: Manatee Day
Author: Araceli Ramírez Montiel
Manatee Day is celebrated on September 7th with the aim of promoting the conservation of this species and raising awareness among the population about the threats it faces.
Manatees are found in flat waters, slow-moving rivers, estuaries, saltwater bays, canals, and coastal areas.
They are gentle and slow animals. Most of their time is spent eating, resting, and traveling.
Manatees are mostly herbivores, however, they can sometimes ingest small fish and invertebrates along with vegetation; they can consume 10 – 15% of their body weight in vegetation.
They have to emerge to breathe air, they rest submerged at the bottom or just below the surface of the water, breathing on average every three to five minutes. When manatees use a large amount of energy, they can surface to breathe every 30 seconds, they can remain submerged for up to 20 minutes.
They can swim at a speed of up to 30 kilometers per hour for short distances, but they usually swim at a speed of 5 to 8 kilometers per hour.
They have no natural enemies and are believed to live up to 60 years or more. A certain percentage of manatee mortality is attributed to natural causes of death such as cold stress syndrome, gastrointestinal illness, pneumonia, and other illnesses. A high number of additional deaths are related to human causes.
The reproduction rate of manatees is low, they are not sexually mature until around five years old. It is believed that a calf is born every two to five years. The gestation period is 13 months. Mothers nurse their young for one to two years.
The manatee has been used as a flagship species in the conservation efforts of several national wetlands. Community work and environmental awareness initiatives have been key to promoting its conservation.
In Mexico there is the Action Program for the Conservation of the Species: Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), which aims to ensure the conservation of the Manatee and its habitat throughout its range of distribution through the implementation of management measures, effective protection and recovery, with the participation of the federal government and state governments, academia, civil society organizations and local communities.
Climate change has implied not only the increase in atmospheric and water temperatures, but also the consequent decrease in water salinity and the increase in the intensity and frequency of events such as hurricanes. Intensified hurricanes could increase manatee mortality rates and influence their displacement from current areas of use.
At B + F we understand the importance of conserving and protecting marine fauna, and we know that systemic actions are invariably accompanied by adequate compliance with conservation legislation and policies, which is why our multidisciplinary team is continually updated to be able to accompany the projects of our clients and allies with the necessary technical studies, field support and the necessary protection and conservation work.