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Lac de Guiers Manatee Rescue, Part 2

Late yesterday morning Tomas got a call that another baby manatee had been found entangled in net in Lac de Guiers. It was near the location where the first one had been caught the other day, so we wondered what was going on with the nets there, and hoped it wasn’t the same calf caught again. It took several hours to arrange a truck to get back to Toleu, and once we got there it took awhile longer to round up a few men to come with us, because most people were already out fishing or away from the village in the rice fields. The wind was stronger today and it took awhile to paddle out to the site, but we got there and pulled up the net.

Unfortunately, it was the SAME manatee calf, caught a second time! We could easily tell by the distinct scars on its tail that it was the same individual.

We put him in the boat and paddled him into nearby Tocc Tocc Reserve, which has fewer nets. We are worried that he doesn’t seem to have found other manatees, but unfortunately there was nothing else to do but release him once again and hope he can find his way around the nets and back to his mother, or at least other manatees. He does seem big enough to be eating some plants on his own by now, but may he still need his mother to teach him some life skills.

Release number two…

Nets are a big problem in Lac de Guiers. There are so many of them that it must be a constant maze for manatees. Adult manatees can easily break through the thin netting, but calves must have difficulty avoiding it all. Unfortunately fishermen never clean their old nets out of the lake, they just leave them there, where they catch lots of fish and turtles that end up rotting, and are obviously also a danger to young manatees. Tomas led a net cleanup in Tocc Tocc last year, but already there’s so much derelict net back in there, you’d never know it had been cleaned up relatively recently. We need to do another clean up, but we also need to work on a bigger initiative for the lake. Tomas and I spoke to the local Fisheries Dept head about it, and he agrees it’s a big problem, but getting people to change their habits is a huge challenge.

In the meantime I hope this is the last we see of that poor little manatee, he’s had a tough time!

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