One of eight dead manatees in Tabasco. One of eight dead manatees in Tabasco.

Low water levels, pollution blamed after manatees found dead in Tabasco

Eight of the mammals have died in El Maluco lagoon

A drought and water pollution are both possible reasons for the deaths of eight manatees last month in Tabasco.

Although the cause of the deaths in the El Maluco lagoon in the municipality of Centro is not clear, environmentalists and fishermen blame low water levels and pollution, conditions that remain a threat to the remaining animals.

” . . . We’ve notified the authorities but they don’t do anything, they just come to bury the animals and go away,” said Denis Muñoz Potenciano, a fisherman from the nearby town of El Venadito in Macuspana.

He explained that manatees were numerous in the lagoon in the past and were a tourist attraction, but now only about 10 animals remain.

Muñoz said drought has caused some sections of the lagoon to become stagnant, leaving fish without oxygen and causing mass die-offs.

Officials from the environmental protection agency Profepa have only recently started taking water samples from the lagoon, but their study and analysis takes about 10 days, and locals fear that by then more manatees will be found dead.

A decade ago, Tabasco had the largest manatee population in the country. Profepa data has revealed that numbers have declined since then by about 60% due to pollution and hunting.

Manatees have been considered an endangered species by the Mexican government since 2010, and their future in Tabasco is not promising. There are only three facilities where the mammals are kept in captivity, and their protection in the wild is almost non-existent, according to experts.

Source: Diario Presente (sp)

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