Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Human interactions with sirenians (manatees and dugongs)

July 7, 2017

There are three extant sirenian species of the Trichechidae family and one living Dugongidae family member. Given their close ties to coastal and often urbanized habitats, sirenians are exposed to many types of anthropogenic activities that result in challenges to their well-being, poor health, and even death. In the wild, they are exposed to direct and indirect local pressures as well as subject to large-scale stressors such as global climate change acting on regions or entire genetic stocks. In captivity, they are subject to husbandry and management practices based on our collective knowledge, or in some cases lack thereof, of their needs and welfare. It is therefore reasonable to consider that their current imperiled status is very closely linked to our actions. In this chapter, we identify and define human interactions that may impact dugongs and manatees, including hunting, fisheries, boat interactions, negative interactions with man-made structures, disease and contaminants, and global climate change. We examine techniques used to investigate these impacts and the influence of sirenian biology and of changing human behaviors on potential outcomes. We examine how this differs for dugongs and manatees in the wild and for those held in captivity. Finally, we provide possible mitigation strategies and ways to assess the efforts we are making to improve the welfare of individuals and to conserve these species. This chapter identifies how the welfare of these species is intrinsically linked to the human interactions these animals experience, and how the nature of these interactions has changed with societal shifts. We proffer suggested ways to minimize negative impacts. Current knowledge should be used to minimize negative human interactions and impacts, to promote positive impacts, and to protect these animals for the future.

Publication Year 2017
Title Human interactions with sirenians (manatees and dugongs)
DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-46994-2_17
Authors Robert K. Bonde, Mark Flint
Publication Type Book Chapter
Publication Subtype Book Chapter
Index ID 70189270
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Wetland and Aquatic Research Center