Science and technology for the conservation of manatees in Bocas del Toro and the Ngäbe-Buglé region

Manatee are endangered aquatic mammals. To help protect them, researchers Héctor Guzmán from STRI, Fernando Merchán, Héctor Poveda and Javier Sánchez-Galán from UTP, and Guillaume Ferré from ENSEIRB-MATMECA, developed a monitoring system based on hydrophones, which allows real-time detection the sounds these animals make underwater to communicate with each other.

"Misión Manatí represents a multidisciplinary effort that combines engineering with natural sciences to have a positive impact on this threatened species and the communities in the areas of its habitat.". Fernando Merchán, Researcher of the Project.

Manatees Mission in the Media


Proyect #MisiónManatí


Also known as “sea cows”, they are aquatic mammals that live in shallow tropical and subtropical coastal-marine ecosystems. As herbivores, they control the growth of seagrass beds and aquatic vegetation by assisting in seed dispersal and nutrient cycling. This growth control benefits fish hatcheries, thus promoting high primary productivity in coastal areas. The West Indian manatee subspecies is widely distributed from northern Mexico to central Brazil and the Caribbean islands, where it seeks rivers and coastal wetland habitats with abundant aquatic vegetation, providing food, breeding grounds, and protected areas for breeding reproduction.


Study areas

The San San Pond Sak (HSSPS)

The Damani-Guariviara wetland

Acoustic monitoring