Sunday, October 31, 2010

Building new partnerships

This past week I traveled south to Saly and met with Dawda Saine, a manatee researcher from the Gambia who I have been talking to on email for awhile. Dawda is very enthusiastic to get manatee field research started in his country, so we took the opportunity of his attendance at a fisheries workshop here in Senegal to meet and talk about manatees in his country and future fieldwork. Dawda is also trying to raise funds to travel to Florida for necropsy training at the state's Marine Mammal Pathobiology lab.

While talking to Dawda we were joined by Alhaji Sesay of Sierra Leone, who is also interested in manatee work. He knows several other colleagues I have been in touch with there. He proudly showed me a manatee sticker on his briefcase from a previous manatee workshop he attended. We all discussed the benefits of a regional network for researchers working directly in the field, the need for assessment of manatee populations, and the need for training for researchers so that they can get the most accurate data. I am always happy to connect with such motivated people working in Africa!

Dawda Saine, Alhaji Sesay and I talk manatees

Friday, October 22, 2010

French Version of the Manatee Necropsy Manual / version française du manuel de nécropsie des lamantins‏

For manatee researchers:
We are happy to announce the completion of a French version of the Manatee Necopsy Manual originally written by Bonde, O'Shea, and Beck in 1983. In this French version we updated datasheets to French versions that are currently in use in Francophone Africa, as well as some of the descriptions for data collection techniques. Parts of this translation follows the 2006 Spanish translation (in other words, dated text relating only to manatee carcass recovery and necropsy within Florida was removed). We hope the French translation will serve those working in many parts of the world to better collect manatee carcass data! A copy is available at or by contacting Lucy Keith.

Cheers, Lucy Keith & Coralie Nourisson

Pour des chercheurs de lamantin:
C'est avec plaisir que nous vous annonçons l'accomplissement d'une version française du manuel de nécropsie des lamantins à l'origine écrit par Bonde, O'Shea, et Beck en 1983. Dans cette version française nous avons mis à jour les formulaires techniques en utilisant les versions françaises actuellement utilisées en Afrique francophone, ainsi que certaines descriptions des techniques de collecte de données. Une partie de cette traduction suit la traduction de 2006 en espagnol (le texte se rapportant uniquement à la récupération et à la nécropsie des carcasses de lamantin en Floride a été supprimé). Nous espérons que la traduction française servira ceux travaillant dans de nombreuses régions du monde pour mieux rassembler les données des carcasses de lamantin ! Une copie est disponible sur demande à ou en contactant Lucy Keith.

Merci, Lucy Keith & Coralie Nourisson

Coralie Nourisson
ECOSUR - Proyecto manati
Av Centenario Km 5.5
Chetumal Q.Roo 77900. Mexico

Monday, October 18, 2010

Back to Africa!

I landed in Dakar, Senegal late Saturday night and am now finalizing my work for this field season, which will be shorter than the past few years (only 2 months!) because I need to be back at the University of Florida to take classes in January. For those of you who may not know, in addition to my job working with West African manatees, I am also working on my PhD on West African manatees (ecology, behavior and genetics). So I pretty much do nothing but think about manatees at this point! But I love it.

Dakar is very hot and humid right now, close to 90 degrees, which is challenging to acclimate to after spending the last 6 weeks in the wonderful, cool, northeastern USA. The rainy season should be ending soon, which will also hopefully bring a drop in temperature. I hope to do more surveys and a training session for biologists here. I will also be going to Mali in a few weeks to lead a manatee training workshop there with participants from 5 countries.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Gabon: Manatee calf video

This wonderful video of the manatee calf in Gabon was made by Aimee Sanders about a week ago.

Unfortunately since then the manatee's wounds have worsened, so I hope the anti-biotics and diligent veterinary care he is receiving will help! He really needs your support if you are able to help!

Manatee calf in Gabon: surviving but needs your help!

It's wonderful news that the calf (now renamed "Victor") has survived over 2 weeks! Manatee veterinarians and colleagues from around the world who have experience in caring for orphaned manatee calves in developing countries have provided excellent advice via the internet, and have sent the first feeding supplies to help the staff there keep the animal alive. None of the people on site have worked with manatees previously, and all are to be commended for huge efforts over the past weeks, feeding the manatee every 3 hours around the clock, finding and housing volunteers, and locating supplies. Ken Cameron, a WCS veterinarian who has manatee expertise has arrived on scene, given the manatee a health assessment and is addressing some health issues.

But now that it appears likely Victor will survive, funds are desperately needed to support the care of this animal for the longer term. Needs include:

  • Formula (soy milk and vitamins) = $250 per month

  • Veterinary supplies = $200 per month

  • National transport costs (for supplies, staff rotation, etc.) = $200 per month

  • Communication costs (internet, phone) = $100 per month

  • Hiring and provisions for 2 local staff or expat volunteers to help with care and feeding = $900 per month

  • Other costs (maintenance of the corral, record keeping, etc) = $100 per month

  • Propane refrigerator and stove for storing supplies and preparing formula= $500

  • Setting up basic accomodation for round the clock workers (cots, mosquito nests, building repair, etc.)= $500

  • Emergency international vet transport to site = $1000

  • Possible translocation = $1500

This appeal for support is urgent since no dedicated funds currently exist for this manatee calf, and care will get very expensive over time. Orphan manatee calves need two years of care before being released back to the wild. West African manatees are very rare and hunted extensively throughout their range. This is an exceptional opportunity not only to help this individual, but for scientists to learn about this elusive species, and to promote educational awareness for manatees in Gabon and throughout Africa. If you are able to help, please send donations to:

Victor the Manatee c/o the Marine Program
Wildlife Conservation Society
Attn: Grace Seo
2300 Southern Boulevard
Bronx, NY 10460 USA
Tel: 718-220-8156

Please make checks out to the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Thank you!