When I returned to Gamba early last week I heard that another manatee carcass had been found in Sette Cama. On Wednesday I was able to catch a ride back up there on a boat that was delivering gas and beer. On Thursday morning (Thanksgiving in the USA… I was reminded of my days working for the state of Florida manatee program, because in that job I always ended up dealing with carcasses on holidays) I went out with two ecoguides, Joesph and Eryc. We quickly found the carcass and although it was badly decomposed, it was in slightly better shape than the previous ones. It was a female, 243cm long, the biggest one I’ve had here so far. The cause of death appeared to be natural (no signs of trauma). I collected the skull and genetics samples. The previous 4 skulls all already have future homes in museums (3 in Gabon and possibly one in South Africa, if export permits are obtained).
The good news is that I finished up in time to join some friends for a nice feast hosted by a Dutch film crew that was filming in Sette Cama, and even though it wasn’t turkey, it was fantastic fresh food, quite a luxury here! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. While in Sette Cama I also started talking with the Eaux et Foret (Water and Forestry) guys who run the small ecomuseum here about expanding their manatee exhibit, which currently is just an incomplete skeleton lying on a table (below at left). Thanks to the generosity of my Wildlife Without Borders grant, I have money to produce permanent display panels, educational posters and pamphlets. I will also provide them with a complete skeleton (we may try to articulate it and hang it from the ceiling if we get adventurous) and old tagging gear to show some research equipment.
Gislain and Yvan run the Sette Cama Ecomusee and are excited to help with a refurbished manatee display.