One of the many perks of not having an office job: looking up from your work to see a 1,300 kg (almost 2,900 lb) mammal swim by. While National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists Giuseppe Di Carlo (now CI’s Marine Climate Change Manager), John Burke and Jud Kenworthy were collecting fish samples near the Puerto Rican island of Vieques, they encountered a West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) grazing on a nearby seagrass bed.
The waters off western Puerto Rico have a small resident manatee population, whose survival depends on the health of nearby rivers emptying into the sea, as well as abundant seagrass beds. Seagrasses make up a significant portion of the manatee’s diet.
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To learn more about Dr. Di Carlo and the importance of the seagrass ecosystems he works to protect, check out The Hidden Value Of Seagrasses