Has the manatee (Trichechus manatus) dissapeared from the northern coast of the State of Veracruz, Mexico?

A. Serrano, A. García-Jiménez, C. González-Gándara

Abstract


Knowledge about the distribution and abundance of the manatee (Trichechus manatus) along the coast of the Mexican state of Veracruz is scarce. Since few studies have been undertaken in this area, boat-based surveys and interviews with local fishermen were carried out to determine if there are remaining herds of manatees in the vicinity of the coastal towns of Tamiahua, Tuxpan, Tecolutla, and Casitas-Nautla. All of the fishermen interviewed noted that they used to see large herds of manatees in the area. Seventy-four percent (371 fishermen) of the survey respondents had not seen a manatee over the last 10 years, and 26% (131 fishermen) responded that the last time they saw large or small groups of manatees was in 1986 and 1995, respectively. However, since 1996, none of the fishermen had observed any manatees in the area. Similarly, no manatees were observed during the boat-based surveys (effort of approximately 1200km). It is almost certain that anthropogenic influences have altered manatee habitat significantly and thus affected the numbers of animals using the area. Also, fishermen speculated that natural phenomena such as cyclones, flooding, and storms caused manatees to move away from the area. More surveys along the coast of Veracruz are needed to determine if manatees still occur in this Mexican state. Also, it is urgent to implement conservation measures in the northern range of the manatee in Mexico to ensure the survival of this species along its original distribution.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5597/lajam00115

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