The Antillean manatee, an endangered and keystone species, heavily relies on the lagoons of the Mexican Caribbean. Nursing females and calves spend over half a year in the gentle waters along the Mexican Caribbean coastline, protected by mangroves and covered with seagrass. Stakeholders see the biocultural value of the manatee for the Maya culture, and they want to actively contribute to the long-term protection of their habitat. Living on one of the most heavily visited coastlines in the world, scientists and locals alike are aware of the vulnerability of this peaceful, charismatic species and want to collaborate in its monitoring and stewardship.
This project by FINS Conservation will train mostly women and youth from ten Maya communities along the Yucatan Peninsula so that they can track the movement of manatees, report emergencies, and apply protocols to save them under extreme circumstances. This is the first Biocultural Corridor in Mexico, and the active participation of children, youth, fishermen, tourist guides, and other stakeholders in designing monitoring protocols ensures a long-term commitment to the stewardship of the lagoons.