CLEARWATER, Fla., July 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Juanita, Pepe and Lupita are West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) that have set a record. On Sunday, June 27, 2021, they became the first manatees to be successfully rescued, rehabilitated, released, and tracked in the Dominican Republic. Representatives from the Dominican government including the Dominican Minister of the Environment, Orlando Jorge Mera, joined to celebrate their release.
Scientists with Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute (CMARI) worked with partners from FUNDEMAR (Dominican Foundation for Marine Studies), The Ministry of Environment of the Dominican Republic, the National Aquarium of the Dominican Republic, and the German Embassy in the Dominican Republic, to tag the manatees and teach the local groups how to operate the tracking equipment.
Being able to track the manatees movements will help scientists gain a deeper understanding of how manatees use their habitat and to ensure Juanita, Pepe and Lupita are able to properly adapt to life in the wild.
Under instruction from the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources, a «soft release» in Bayahibe was planned where all three manatees were kept in a natural pen for an adaption period of six months prior to their release. The pen site was selected by the team of the Ministry of Environment, FUNDEMAR, and the National Aquarium based on existing protocols and similar experiences in Puerto Rico.
Dr. James «Buddy» Powell from CMARI joined the teams at FUNDEMAR, the National Aquarium, Ministry of Environment and German Embassy to prepare Juanita, Pepe, and Lupita for release by outfitting them with their tracking devices. Dr. Powell also trained the Dominican scientists on how to place the devices on the manatees and use the tracking software.
Scientists with CMARI will continue to serve in a consultant role, helping FUNDEMAR decipher when unusual movements aren’t of concern, or when an intervention is necessary for the manatees’ well-being.
Media Contact: Kelsy Long, firstname.lastname@example.org
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SOURCE Clearwater Marine Aquarium