This past week ended well, despite not being able to get out on the lagoon for surveys. I did 3 training sessions for ecoguides, which included background on manatees and an introduction to collecting samples from carcasses (basic stuff: GPS points, photos, how to determine the sex, how to collect genetics and ear bones). It will be very helpful to have other people trained if a carcass turns up when I’m not here, and it will help increase understanding of the manatee population in this lagoon to have samples collected year-round. I was impressed with the questions the guys asked and look forward to working with them more next year.
One on one discussion with Anselm about sample collection
On Friday afternoon I went back up to Sette Cama. I drove up with Jean-Pierre Baye, an energetic guy who started the local sea turtle NGO here, Ibonga. He arranged for me to speak at 2 schools this weekend. So on Saturday morning I gave my first manatee presentation to elementary school kids and their teachers in Sette Cama. I had a power point presentation, some video clips of manatees, and I gave out the French manatee coloring books that I helped produce with Save the Manatee Club. It went well and they had interesting questions- there are alot of myths about manatees here so questions ranged from how long the gestation period is for a manatee (Answer: it is believed to be 13 months, but it’s not scientifically confirmed for the species yet), to whether or not it is true that they eat human cadavers (it is not!). Unfortunately the second school presentation was cancelled at the last minute because the school director had a death in the family, but I’ll be able to go there when I’m back in the area next Fall.
At the end the teachers and some of the kids wanted a group photo with the coloring books.