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Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

Wildtracks blog


The Manatee Experience

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Hello everyone,

My name is Lieselot. I came from the faraway land of Belgium to work with manatees here at Wildtracks. I've been here for almost a month now and it's been a wonderful experience so far. In this blog post I'll give you an update about our two manatee boys; Rameses and Duke.

Both currently have their residence in the lagoon, and they seem to be enjoying it a lot. Manatees are social animals that like to interact with each other, so the extra company is very welcome to them. We pay attention to how social they are and whether they eat and poop. Of course we also note all of our observations, because remember, kids, the difference between science and messing around is writing it all down! Both Rameses and Duke are doing well in the social department. They interact with each other all the time and also show a healthy interest in us volunteers.

As mentioned before, we also monitor the manatees' feeding. We make sure that at all times enough banana leaves and water hyacinths are available to them. They also get seagrass, the main component of their diet. All these greens are checked six times a day.

Rameses has been eating very well. Most days, all the water hyacinths are gone within the hour, and the banana leaves have also proven to be a very popular dish. In addition to his greens, Rameses gets a milk feed three times a day. This feed consists of a lovely banana milkshake, enriched with probiotics. He's always very eager for this and gulps it greedily.

Duke is a bit more difficult of a case. He came here with a digestive tract severely damaged by cold stress. He also has suffered some nerve damage to his nose. The cause of all this was him getting tangled in a fishnet. His injuries make it difficult for him to eat on his own, so he gets tube fed every other day.
He is making a slow but sure recovery though. Recently, his feed portion was increased. And when we catch him for his feed, we can't help but notice that the small manatee sling keeps getting smaller relative to Duke. So, yes, he is growing!

We weighed him just the other day and he is now 218 pounds (99 kilos for my friends on the European mainland). This is still a bit on the skinny side for a manatee his age and length, but he is not losing any weight, which is a really good sign for him. Plus, he has been spotted trying to feed on greens! Counting this and his positive social behaviour, we're sure he'll be a healthy, independent manatee one day.

In conclusion, both guys are in very good hands here at Wildtracks for now. The care and dedication towards the animals is amazing, and I'm extremely happy to be a part of it.

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Published by: Zoe Walker at 2014-05-23 20:02:35   [Link to this article]


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