Suralco Magazine, 1978 jaargang, vol 10 Nr 3, Drs. D. Dekker, Artis, Amsterdam
Subject: [Animal life]The Manatee (zee koe)
The Manatee (zee koe) belongs to the group of seriously endangered species. Their family can be traced 50 million years back. Their ancestors lived then on land and one branch became the elephant while the manatee preferred living in the water and adapted to that life.
They live mostly under water so that they are difficult to observe. They are mammals and have to come above water to breathe. They can remain submerged without releasing air bubbles but if they get alarmed many air bubbles can be seen.
Only two or thee species of the manatee are known to exist. One sea-dweller the Dugong lives along the coast of Australia and East Africa.
The Suriname Manatee (Trichechus Manatus) belongs to the fresh water group. They live in coastal marsh land from Florida to Suriname. The manatee eats at night and they are purely vegetarians. Their favorite food is the Mokko-Mokko which grows plentifully in fresh water. They also eat floating water plants like the water lillies of the canal in Nieuw Nickerie.
Two manatees were also captured for Artis in Amsterdam where in 1977 one manatee was born in captivity. Their reproduction rate is very low in captivity. One male lived at artis in 1966 and was joined by a female in 1972.
These animals eat 20-25 kg fresh water plants per day.
The manatees were once spotted in the areas of the Commewijne, Cottica and Cassiwinica but an investigation from Artis experts did not find a trace of the manatees. Upstream where it is more difficult to travel the Manatees have been seen. Most Manatees were found in the Nanni basins of Nieuw Nickerie as the conditions are here ideal for them. Plenty of water and food. These areas are considered potential nature reservations to protect the Manatees of Suriname.