The One Earth Project Marketplace funds on-the-ground climate solutions that are key to solving the climate crisis through three pillars of collective action — renewable energy, nature conservation, and regenerative agriculture. This project protects manatees through community-led monitoring and research.
The tranquil waters of Latin America have long been home to the gentle giants of the sea - manatees (Trichechidae Familie). These sea cows have always been a fascinating part of the region's ecosystem and culture.
But today, they are in peril due to poaching, entanglement in fishing nets, boat collisions, and loss of suitable habitats. The situation is dire, and the need for action is urgent.
Yet, hope is not lost. Four Latin American women scientists with expertise in aquatic megafauna have joined forces to establish FINS (the International Foundation for Nature and Sustainability). This project from the organization will create a strong network of conservation to protect and study manatees.
Monitoring manatees with the latest technologies
This project will establish a community-based manatee monitoring and research system in four critical areas: Sian Ka'an, Mexico, Izabal Lake, Guatemala, Orinoco River, Colombia, and Pacaya Saimira, Peru. Observations and data will be collected using local knowledge along with drones, side-scan sonars, and bioacoustics.
Community at the heart of conservation
The project aims to train four community groups in manatee monitoring methods, including quality assessment of manatee habitat, recording presence and behavior, and attending to stranded individuals. Through awareness campaigns, it also hopes to change fishermen's and local communities' perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors toward manatees.
Manatee populations will benefit from conservation efforts as the region's people foster a better understanding and appreciation of these gentle giants.
Expanding the protection network in Latin America
This project is just the beginning of implementing a large-scale network for manatee conservation in Latin America and the Caribbean, led by women. In the future, FINS expects to have gathered relevant information on manatee distribution, ecology, and threats, allowing them to identify temporal and spatial trends.
This information is critical to creating management plans with local communities and environmental authorities. This project is vital to accomplish manatee conservation on a large scale.
Leaders in marine biodiversity and preservation
FINS' founders and network is a group of colleagues and friends who are all experts in marine biodiversity. They have demonstrated experience developing scientific research and community-led conservation projects in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Quintana Roo, Mexico.
As leaders in the field, they implement the newest technologies in their work and include citizen science projects to involve local community members.
Saving manatees impacts the world
Manatees are an essential part of the marine ecosystem. They help to keep waterways clean and healthy by eating algae and other plants. They also play a role in dispersing seeds and pollinating aquatic vegetation.
By protecting their populations through monitoring and research, marine biodiversity will flourish, which helps create clean air and sequester more carbon from the atmosphere, mitigating climate change. This project showcases how saving one species is a climate solution that can ultimately be felt by all.