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Is the West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) at the Brink of Extinction in the State of Veracruz, Mexico?
Abstract: The West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is distributed from the Atlantic coast of the United States to the center of Brazil along the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico. The species’ current distribution is more fragmented than in the past, and manatee populations are generally less abundant than they were during the last century. In Mexico, there is no specific information about the size of the manatee populations. Hence, the objective of this study was to estimate the density and abundance of manatees in the Alvarado Lagoon System (ALS) in Veracruz using distance sampling. In total, 959 systematic line transects were surveyed using a small boat. These surveys covered 90% of the ALS. Manatee density and abundance for the entire ALS was estimated at 0.23 animals/km2 (CV 34.48%) and 121 manatees (CV 34.48%), respectively. These are the first density and abundance estimates for this lagoon system and for the State of Veracruz. The extremely low number of manatees supports the urgent implementation of effective conserva¬tion measures for the species to prevent extinction of this species in Veracruz.
Key Words: West Indian manatee, Trichechus manatus manatus, abundance, density, Veracruz, conservation, coastal management, Gulf of Mexico, Sirenia
Document Type: Research Article
Page Numbers: 201-207