Sep. 11, 2001 FORT PIERCE, FL., Sept. 10, 2001 – Four manatees that were in danger of starving in their native Mexico habitat are now safe and eating well, thanks to the efforts of a HARBOR BRANCH marine mammal expert who helped to rescue them and arrange for their thousand-mile journey to a new home.
Dr. Greg Bossart, head of Marine Mammal Research and Conservation at HARBOR BRANCH Oceanographic Institution, was asked by the Mexican government to travel to Jonuta in Tabasco where the four Antillean manatees were trapped in an area without an adequate food supply.
Dr. Bossart, accompanied by Mark Trimm of the Miami Seaquarium and HARBOR BRANCH videographer Brian Cousin, arrived at the area at 3am on August 30 and arranged for the first leg of the manatee’s journey, a three-hour cross-country truck ride.
The manatees were then transported in a chartered cargo airplane and then another truck ride to their final destination near Cancun, where they finally arrived at about 10pm. Two manatees were taken to Xcaret while the other two were taken to Puerto Aventuras. All four will be medically evaluated in the coming days.
“The animals are markedly underweight but stable. They are Antillean manatees, a subspecies of the Florida manatee, and are critically endangered,” Dr. Bossart said.
“We were told that only 400 remain in the area,” he added, saying that one of the reasons for their decline may be due changes in food and water supply in the region.
HARBOR BRANCH Oceanographic Institution is one of the world’s leading nonprofit oceanographic research organizations dedicated to exploration of the earth’s oceans, estuaries and coastal regions for the benefit of mankind.
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