Wild Caribbean: The Caribbean’s Most Unusual Animals

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April 22, 2014

6. West Indian Manatee (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, Puerto Rico)


Manatees, or sea cows, are often associated with Florida, where the urbanization of coastal areas has meant frequent human contact for these laconic, marine mammals. Conservation efforts led to their appearance on the state’s vehicle license plate. But the Caribbean or Antillean manatee (one of two West Indian manatee sub-species) actually ranges as far south as Venezuela and Colombia. Among Caribbean islands, they can be found most frequently in the waters of Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, though some have also been seen on occasion in Trinidad. Their range was once more widespread, as evidenced by place names like Sea Cow Bay in Tortola, before hunting and, more recently, environmental pressures reduced numbers.