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Photo: Rachel Plekaniec

national census

To have updated data on the population of wild manatees in the country (the last being by Belitsky and Belitsky published in 1980) and to be able to implement solid conservation actions, a national census was carried out on the Dominican coast between 2022 and 2023. This census was carried out It consists of 3 layers:

- Social layer with interviews of fishermen and other users throughout the territory, to know and understand their practices and relationships with the Antillean manatee. In addition to the interviews, information is provided so that community members can report any sightings and/or strandings with the new FUNDEMAR fleet number (+1 849 472 3270)
- Drone census with recording of behaviors during sightings, habitats and threats in hotspots and areas with reports.
- Plane census over the entire coast of the country to find out the current population of wild manatees in the Dominican Republic. (May 2023)


The results of the aerial census reveal around 110 manatees on the Dominican coast. We must protect the few we have left and their habitats in order to achieve the survival of the species.


The manatee photo identification project begins to scale manatee conservation efforts in the country. One of the biggest challenges during the census was finding identification marks on Caribbean manatees to differentiate them (and exclude double sightings), as they do not usually have boat marks or other relevant injuries, and details must be found on their tail, or specific points on your body, which requires a high image resolution. Therefore, photo identification should be carried out as an independent project, dedicating several days to each population where the focus is on identification.

Unfortunately, in the national census we discovered that there are about 110 manatees left in the country. This figure is alarming, but it is still enough to maintain and save a healthy population with a diverse gene pool. In order to register and protect them, it is of utmost importance to know each of these individuals. By expanding the public photo ID database, we can raise more awareness about wild manatee populations. Proof of this were the results of the release of the three captive manatees “Pepe, Juanita and Lupita” in 2021, where the public was much more aware of and affected by the personal “stories” of those named individual manatees.

Therefore, strengthening the database and having publicly available information on individual manatees will help create a link between Dominicans and these highly endangered animals. In addition, it will provide more concrete data that will be presented to the Dominican Ministry of the Environment to demand reinforcement of the protection of key habitats.



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