Amazonian Manatee Links


Amazonian Manatee
Trichechus inunguis

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The smallest member of the family Trichechidae, the Amazonian manatee has smoother skin than West Indian or West African manatees and generally has a white or pink belly patch. The scientific name T. inunguis literally means "no nails" -- as this species has no toenails on its flippers. Amazonian manatee distribution is restricted to the fresh waters of the Amazon River Basin and its tributaries in South America -- these animals do not venture out into salt water like West Indian manatees. However hybrid animals (crosses between West Indian and Amazonian manatees) have been identified near the mouth of the Amazon River. This is a remarkable and unexpected scientific discovery because the species are very different and don't even have the same number of chromosomes!

Yara, our Amazonian Manatee Ambassador (scientific name Trichechus inunguis), is named after a Brazilian Indian word that means "Lady of the Water". She represents the smallest of all sirenians, the species that is found only in the Amazonian region of South America. These animals are unique among manatees because their populations appear to be limited to the fresh water habitats of the Amazon River and it's tributaries. Scientists are working to protect these endangered animals, whose numbers have been drastically reduced by hunting, habitat degradation, and other environmental impacts. Many Amazonian manatees are found in Brazil where limited funding is available for research, but their habitat also reaches into Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru where more research is needed. The website links to the left will take you to the primary organizations working to protect these elusive mermaids in Colombia and Brazil.

Amazonian manatee behavior is highly influenced by the annual wet-dry cycle. Calves are usually born in the rainy season, just as the rivers begin to flood. During the dry season, Amazonian manatees can become stranded in lakes as the mighty Amazon recedes. Some scientists think that an unusually slow metabolism enables them to survive with little or no food for long periods during the dry season.

Photo (c) Doug Perrine/; Yara, SI's Amazonian Manatee Ambassador (c) Sirenian International, Inc.

Orphans: Participating members are eligible to apply for funds to support their manatee orphan rehabilitation projects, however, Sirenian International is NOT directly supporting the orphans listed below -- these pages are provided for information only and contribute to our research, education, and conservation goals. Click on a name below to learn more about orphaned animals around the world. Contact information is provided on each of the following pages for direct support to the rehabilitation project.

  • Airuwe, an Amazonian manatee in Colombia
  • Mixirinha, an Amazonian manatee in Brazil

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