Featured article in Cap Cana The Magazine
By Denur Legrand
Until just over a century ago, manatees – scientific name Trichechus manatus – were extremely common throughout the Caribbean and other tropical and subtropical regions of the Americas, especially in warmer environmental conditions. The Taino people who lived on the island of Hispaniola used to eat manatee meat and would also use their bones for making tools. According to historians, our ancestors named it “manatee” which in the indigenous language means “with breasts.
The Caribbean manatee – also known as sea cow – is now an endangered species. In the past, sailors would famously confuse the marine mammals with mythical mermaids. It is even said that Christopher Columbus exclaimed “mermaids!” when he spotted manatees swimming under the surface during one of his voyages to the New World. The admiral then went on to remark that these creatures were not as beautiful as their literacy descriptions had led him to believe.
The manatees’ body is both robust and streamlined, despite its sluggish movements. Its endoskeleton consists of just six cervical vertebrae, unlike other mammals that have seven. It is distinctive for its lack of a defined neck, and its flat, round and paddle-shaped tail. A placid animal, its diet is mainly herbivorous. Manatees, which can reach a length of up to four-and-a-half/ meters and weigh up to three thousand pounds, have a lifespan of between seventy and eighty years.
A growing number of distinctive attractions are putting Cap Cana firmly on the map as an exclusive spot. One such fortuitous event was the recent sighting of a pair of manatees in the calm waters of the Marina.