Submission Date


Document Type

Paper- Restricted to Campus Access


Environmental Studies


Dr. Richard Wallace

Committee Member

Dr. Richard Wallace

Committee Member

Dr. Leah Joseph

Committee Member

Dr. Rebecca Jaroff

Department Chair

Dr. Patrick Hurley

Project Description

The Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) is a marine mammal that inhabits the Atlantic coast ranging from the Gulf Coast of North America through Central America to northern South America. This species inhabits coastal areas, including estuaries and rivers. The Antillean manatee is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act due to habitat loss and direct killing by humans (both accidental and intentional).

In pre-Columbian era México, the manatee was very important to various indigenous groups including the Mayas, Aztecs, Miskitos and Ramas as both a food source and a creature of spiritual importance. Findings at a Mayan excavation site showed manatees were overused by these indigenous groups, in some cases comprising nearly all of the estimated meat consumed. Although policies are in place to protect the Antillean manatee, poaching, habitat loss, net entanglements, and boat collisions still occur.

After reviewing the literature, many questions remained unanswered, including: Why aren’t Mexican manatee conservation policies effective, and what is causing continued poaching of manatees? To explore these questions I conducted a further analysis of U.S. and Mexican literature, policies, and culture concerning manatee conservation, and conducting interviews with key participants in manatee conservation programs in Mexico. In my thesis, I will propose why conservation efforts in Mexico are failing to promote the protection and growth of the Antillean manatee population, and what changes need to be made to current conservation policies and programs in order to promote the health and stability of the Mexican manatee population.