USGS - science for a changing world

Southeast Ecological Science Center

dot iconHome dot iconAbout SESC

PRESS RELEASES

EXPLORE OUR SCIENCE

CENTER INFORMATION



Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Twitter
Follow us on FaceBook Follow us on FaceBook

Conserving Manatees Beyond Borders


Cuban biologists, conservation workers, technicians, and students learn how to examine a manatee carcass, a skill that is important for understanding causes of manatee deaths. - click to open a slideshow in a new window
Cuban biologists, conservation workers, technicians, and students learn how to examine a manatee carcass, a skill that is important for understanding causes of manatee deaths.
Related Links:

The USGS has been researching manatees in Florida and the Caribbean for decades, but little is known about Cuban manatees. Yet, conserving the manatee throughout its range is important to ensure the long-term recovery of the species. To expand global understanding of Cuban manatees, USGS biologist Dr. Bob Bonde recently shared his expertise in manatee necropsies with Cuban biologists, conservation workers, technicians, and students.

Dr. Bonde worked with a team of international manatee experts to conduct a three-day workshop on manatee biology, genetics, and carcass examination at the University of Havana Institute for Marine Studies in Havana, Cuba. The team was organized and sponsored by conservation groups Sea to Shore Alliance and Wildlife Trust, which have been working in Cuba since 2001 to conduct manatee research and help train the next generation of manatee conservationists. The workshop on manatee biology and necropsy is part of a series of training programs on how to better understand the manatees that inhabit the island. Necropsy -the examination of manatee carcasses - is important for understanding causes of manatee deaths.

Resource managers in Cuba have begun taking important conservation steps by educating local communities, including fisherman, about manatees and what they can do to help protect the species. Cuban biologists have also begun an in-depth study of manatees on the Isle of Youth. An important next step, says Dr. Bonde, is to begin surveying manatee populations by plane. Such aerial surveys provide valuable information about how manatees use habitats in and around the island, and can be later enhanced by using radiotags to study how manatees move between habitats. Another critical part of the overall conservation picture is to learn more about the genetics of Cuban manatees.

The species of manatee found in Cuba - the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) - is the same as that found in Florida and throughout the Caribbean. However, conservation geneticists are just beginning to piece together clues as to how the Cuban population is inter-related with the Florida and Antillean sub-species found elsewhere in the Caribbean. Cuban manatee populations appear to be mixing not only with their northern cousins in Florida but also with populations in Mexico and Belize. Learning more about these relationships will help ensure more robust strategies for protecting the species' long-term chances for survival.




    For more information:
    SESC | Sirenia Project
    2201 NW 40th Terrace
    Gainesville, FL 32605-3574
    Tel: 352-372-2571 or 352-378-8181
    Fax: 352-374-8080

Accessibility FOIA Privacy Policies and Notices

Take Pride in America logo USA.gov logo U.S. Department of the Interior | U.S. Geological Survey
URL: http://fl.biology.usgs.gov/Science_Feature_Archive/2010/manatees_in_cuba/bonde_in_cuba.html
Page Contact Information: SESC Webmaster
Page Last Modified: Friday, 15-Feb-2013 13:06:15 EST