Fishermen and residents of a coastal town in Cuba urge the care and protection of manatees

HAVANA, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Fishermen and residents of the coastal town of Santa Fe, in Havana, are advocating for the manatee protection, a species of marine fauna that is in a very critical situation, not only in Cuba but worldwide, due to its danger of extinction.

Spotted in various cities coastal areas of Cuba, the Antillean manatee, as the species that reaches the Caribbean nations is called, is distinguished by being a mammal that lives in shallow waters, estuaries -where rivers meet the sea- and in other areas tropical

“Look what has arrived here at the fishing base,” said Yanet Jorge Díaz, a resident of Santa Fe, astonished, showing where spotted the slow movement of a manatee.

Far from benefiting them, their slow movement has turned manatees into a species easy to catch by clandestine fishermen who seek their meat for being a delicacy in the regions where it lives. This mammal can be found in both salty and fresh waters, mainly at river mouths.

Experts consider manatees to be true jewels of marine biodiversity. They have an average lifespan of around 35 years and usually reach up to 1,500 kilograms in weight and between four to six meters long, according to specialists.

“As you film a positive encounter with this type of endangered species, the more likely it is that people will not see it as a simple piece of meat, but as a wonderful animal that must be protected, that it is not aggressive (…) “, said biologist and environmental activist Lorena González.

Manatees They are herbivoresThey spend most of the day feeding and can eat up to 50 kilograms of vegetation daily.

Although there has been a decrease in sightings in the Cuban archipelago, there are localized areas where they have been observed more frequently. For example, on the north and south coast of Pinar del Río, on the Isla de la Juventud, the north of the province of Matanzas and Villa Clara, as well as at the mouth of the Cauto River and Guantánamo Bay, at the eastern end from the country.

Here it is not touched that (referring to the manatee). Sometimes it sticks to the bridge and you pour a little water on it, because it even takes water. But it is not that it is an animal that calls our attention as an aggressive animal. Nobody here hurts him, “said fisherman Carlos Castillo on the dock of the fishing base.

(Reuters TV report. Written by Nelson Acosta, edited by Javier Leira REUTERS NAB JL /)

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