Distribution and conservation status of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Honduras
Keywords:Status and Distribution, Mortality
The Antillean manatee, Trichechus manatus manatus, is among the most threatened mammals in Honduras, yet the last published study is from 1980. Since then, the North Coast of Honduras has experienced rapid population growth and land cover change possibly causing habitat loss for manatees. We conducted aerial, boat, and interview surveys between 2005-2007 along the northern and remote eastern coasts of Honduras to assess the current status and distribution of manatees. In addition, we compiled all available data on manatee mortality from museum specimens, unpublished reports, and interviews to determine current threats. We averaged 1.2 manatee sightings per survey hour during six flights along the North Coast in March-April 2006 during 14.4 aerial survey hours. Sightings were mainly clustered in Cuero y Salado Wildlife Refuge (CSWR) and Rios Chapagua and Aguan, which we indentify as important conservation areas. Our total and average sightings per survey hour in CSWR were much lower than those reported in 1979-80, in spite of the area being protected since 1987. Our interviews indicate that manatees are still present on the eastern coast (La Mosquitia), however we observed none during 14.5 survey hours in June 2005 and April 2007. The major cause of known mortality from 1970-2007, based on 26 records, was due to entanglement in fishnets. Despite local and federal protection, manatees are still poached and opportunistically caught in fishnets. While some efforts have been made by local NGOs to raise public awareness for manatees, a national conservation program is highly recommended to centralize and coordinate efforts.
Ackerman, B. B. (1995) Aerial surveys of manatees: a summary and progress report. Pages 13-33 in O’Shea, T. J., Ackerman, B. B. and Percival, H.F. (Eds) Population Biology of the Florida Manatee. National Biological Service Information and Technology Report 1, Washington, DC, USA.
Alves-Stanley, C. D., Worthy G. A. J. and Bonde R. K. (2010) Feeding preferences of the West Indian manatee in Florida, Belize, and Puerto Rico as indicated by stable isotope analysis. Marine Ecology Progress Series 402: 255-267. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/meps08450
Bacchus, M. -L. C., Dunbar, S. G. and Self-Sullivan, C. (2009) Characterization of resting holes and their use by the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) in the Drowned Cayes, Belize. Aquatic Mammals 35 (1): 62-71. http://dx.doi.org/10.1578/AM.35.1.2009.62
Davidson, W. V. (1974) Historical geography of the Bay Islands, Honduras: Anglo hispanic conflict in the Western Caribbean. Southern University Press. Birmingham, Alabama, USA.
Deutsch, C. J. (2008) Trichechus manatus latirostris in IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. Available online at [ Consulted on 8 February 2011]
Gonzalez-Socoloske, D., Olivera-Gomez, L. D. and Ford, R. E. (2009) Dectection of free-ranging West Indian manatees Trichechus manatus using side-scan sonar. Endangered Species Research 8: 249-257. http://dx.doi.org/10.3354/esr00232
Hunter M. E., Auil-Gomez N. A., Tucker K. P., Bonde R. K., Powell J. and McGuire P. M. (2010) Low genetic variation in the regionally important Belize manatee and evidence of low intra-populational and sub-species dispersal. Animal Conservation 13, 592-602. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-1795.2010.00383.x
IUCN (2010) IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Available online at . Consulted on 8 February 2011].
Jimenez, I. (2002) Heavy poaching in prime habitat: the conservation status of the West Indian manatee in Nicaragua. Oryx 36 (3): 272-278. http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0030605302000492
Klein, E. H. (1979) Review of the status of manatee (Trichechus manatus) in Honduras, Central America. Ceiba 23 (1): 21-28.
Lefebvre, L. W., Ackerman, B. B., Portier, K. M. and Pollock, K. H. (1995) Aerial survey as a technique for estimating trends in manatee population size - problems and prospects. Pages 63-74 in O’Shea, T.J., Ackerman, B.B. and Percival, H.F. (Eds) Population biology of the Florida manatee. National Biological Service Information and Technology Report 1, Washington, DC, USA.
Lefebvre, L. W. and Kochman, H. I. (1991) An evaluation of aerial survey replicate count methodology to determine trends in manatee abundance. Wildlife Society Bulletin 19 (3): 298-309.
Lefebvre, L. W., Marmontel, M., Reid, J. P., Rathbun, G. B. and Domning, D. P. (2001) Status and biogeography of the West Indian manatee. Pages 425-474 in Wood, C. A. and Sergile, F. E. (Eds) Biogeography of the West Indies: Patterns and perspectives. CRC Press. Boca Raton, FL, USA.
Lefebvre, L. W., Reid, J. P., Kenworthy, W. J. and Powell, J. A. (2000) Characterizing manatee habitat use and seagrass grazing in Florida and Puerto Rico: implications for conservation and management. Pacific Conservation Biology 5: 289-298.
Marsh, H. and Sinclair, D. F. (1989) Correcting for visibility bias in strip transect aerial surveys of aquatic fauna. Journal of Wildlife Management 53 (4): 1017-1024. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/3809604
McKillop, H. I. (1985) Prehistoric exploitation of the manatee in the Maya and Circum-Caribbean areas. World Archaeology 16 (3): 337-353. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00438243.1985.9979939
Mignucci-Giannoni, A. A. and Beck, C. A. (1998) The diet of the manatee (Trichechus manatus) in Puerto Rico. Marine Mammal Science 14 (2): 394-397.
Morales-Vela, B., Olivera-Gómez, D., Reynolds, J. E., III and Rathbun, G. B. (2000) Distribution and habitat use by manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) in Belize and Chetumal Bay, Mexico. Biological Conservation 95 (1): 67-75. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0006-3207(00)00009-4
Morales-Vela, B., Padilla-Saldivar, J. A. and Mignucci-Giannoni, A. A. (2003) Status of the manatee (Trichechus manatus) along the northern and western coasts of the Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Caribbean Journal of Science 39 (1): 42-49.
Olivera-Gómez, L. D. and Mellink, E. (2002) Spatial and temporal variation in counts of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) during distribution surveys at Bahia de Chetumal, Mexico. Aquatic Mammals 28: 285-293.
Olivera-Gómez, L. D. and Mellink, E. (2005) Distribution of the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) as a function of habitat characteristics, in Bahia de Chetumal, Mexico. Biological Conservation 121 (1): 127-133. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biocon.2004.02.023
Pineda Portillo, N. (1997) Geografía de Honduras. Editorial Guaymuras. Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Provancha, J. A. and Provancha, M. J. (1988) Long-term trends in abundance and distribution of manatees (Trichechus manatus) in the northern Banana River, Brevard County, Florida. Marine Mammal Science 4 (4): 323-338. http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1748-7692.1988.tb00541.x
Rathbun, G. B., Powell, J. A. and Cruz, G. (1983) Status of the West Indian manatee in Honduras. Biological Conservation 26 (4): 301-308. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/0006-3207(83)90094-0
Reynolds, J. E., III and Odell, D. K. (1991) Manatees and dugongs. Facts on File. New York, USA.
Reynolds, J. E., III and Powell, J. A. (2002) Manatees. Pages 709-720 in Perrin, W.F., Wursig, B. and Thewissen, J.G.M., (Eds) Encyclopedia of Marine Mammals. Academic Press. San Diego, CA, USA.
Self-Sullivan, C. and Mignucci-Giannoni, A. (2008) Trichechus manatus manatus in IUCN 2010. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Available online at Consulted on 8 February 2011].
Self-Sullivan, C., Smith, G. W., Packard, J. M. and LaCommare, K. S. (2003) Seasonal occurrence of male Antillean manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus) on the Belize Barrier Reef. Aquatic Mammals 29 (3): 342-354.
Strong, W. D. (1935) Archeological investigations in the Bay Islands, Spanish Honduras. Smithsonian Miscellaneous Collections 92 (14): 1-172.
LicenseAuthors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (See The Effect of Open Access).