Following upon the success of Aristide Kamla's training in Florida in November, Dawda Saine of the Gambia arrived in early February for three weeks of advanced manatee training. Dawda worked for two years to raise the funds for his trip and to get the appropriate visa to come to the USA. My project grants helped sponsor his training, and he also received a separate stipend from Sea to Shore Alliance and a funding award from the University of Florida. In Gambia Dawda is the Executive Secretary of the National Association of Artisanal Fisheries Operators (NAAFO), and his passion is to get community-based manatee research and conservation started in his country. His primary goal for his training was to gain more experience in manatee necropsy techniques so that he can collect samples from West African manatees, and teach the techniques to others in his country. Most of his work took place at the FWC Marine Mammal Pathobiology Lab (MMPL) in St. Petersburg, although he traveled to several other parts of Florida while he was here.
One of the first days he after he arrived, Dawda was able to attend and participate in a release of 3 rehabilitated Florida manatees at Crystal River. He was impressed at the number of people involved in caring for injured manatees in Florida. Dawda also helped MMPL staff at an educational outreach even in Crystal River the following day. He also spent several days working with captive manatees at Homosassa Springs State Wildlife Park. (Photo courtesy of WTXL News)