Staff Links

Communication Gap

Yesterday afternoon I headed out on the lagoon with my 2 EcoGuides, Pierre and Brice. They knew I had done an interview in the morning, describing my manatee research here and showing / describing the parts of a West African manatee skull (Tim recovered a skull from a carcass here in July, it is in pristine condition). So as we’re heading out from the lodge the guys say, “So, do you want to see another carcass?” I look at them in shock and they boat me over to a manatee carcass that is literally within sight of the lodge! Granted it wasn’t fresh, infact it had been recovered last Christmas Day, 2005. It has baked in the sun for all these months and is now basically dried hide over a complete skeleton. I had been given a brief report about this carcass shortly after I arrived at Iguela (basically 2 pictures and GPS coordinates), but no one had ever mentioned that they actually still HAD the carcass! When the guys saw that the other skull was important enough for me to describe to a camera crew, they realized I might be interested in other bones as well. Previously they had assumed I was only interested in live manatees. So now I wonder what else they will show me!

And so now there’s a second carcass to collect samples from- dried skin for genetics, earbones for aging, pelvic bones which are differently shaped in males vs. females. I’ll take some measurements (total length won’t be completely accurate, but it’s better than nothing), and see if we can store the bones out of the sun. It would be great to find a way for the skeleton to be re-articulated somewhere here where Gabonese people can see it.

This may not look exciting to many of you, but given how few complete West African manatee skeletons there are for education and scientific study, this is a gold mine!

By the way, I know my manatee friends in FL will laugh because it seems that no matter how hard I try to work with live animals, I always seem to end up dealing with the dead stuff!

No Comments

Post a Comment


Contact Us

    Your Name

    Your Email


    Your Message

    [recaptcha class:main-contact-captcha]


    P.O. Box 366
    Chilmark, MA 02535

    BP 80 Joal
    23015, Senegal, West Africa



    United States: +1 508-388-9824