meet the program

The Marine Mammals Program is an initiative from Aquasis to study the aquatic mammals that occur off the coast of Ceará, specially focusing on the manatee, Trichechus manatus, and the guiana dolphin, Sotalia guianesis, two endangered species that have the highest mortality rate in the state.

The Manatee

The manatee is an exclusively herbivorous marine mammal that inhabit the coastal and estuarine waters from Virgina, USA to Alagoas, Brazil.

Strandings

The lack of suitable areas for birth and parental care, such as estuaries and mangroves, lead Ceará to the highest rates of strandings of calves in Brasil

Rehabilitation Center

Since 2013, all rescued calves are sent to rehabilitation at the “Centro de Reabilitação de Mamíferos Marinhos” until they can be released to nature.

The Guiana Dolphin

The guiana dolphin is a small dolphin that inhabits the naturally enclosed coastal and estuarine waters from Nicaragua, in Central America, to Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Environment

Since it prefers enclosed waters, the guiana dolphin is easily found near human interventions in the environment, like urban areas, ports, drydocks, and so foth. In these areas, it sufferes the consequeces of exposition to chemical and noise pollutions, the loss of their habitat and accidental fishing, that is the main cause of death of the guiana dolphin.

Capture

Accidental capture, particularly by the use of gillnets and simmilar equipment, is the main cause of death of the guiana dolphin in the state of Ceará. There has been about 500 registers of stranded dead dolphins since 1992.

The guiana dolphin act as indicators of the quality of coastal environments.

Conservation Strategies

The strategies for the conservation of marine mammals in the PMM are centered on these four actions: rescue and rehabilitation, conservationist research, public policies and environmental education.

The PMM rescue and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals, while also investigating the cause of death of stranded carcasses. Samples are collected for many related studies (genetics, contaminants, diet, sanity, and so forth). Orphan manatee calves are sent to the Centro de Reabilitação de Mamíferos Marinhos (CRMM) to be returned back to nature a few years later.  Live cetaceans are preferably treated in natural environments, like coastal sheltered waters.

Etnobiological and populational studies have been developed in one of the most preserved estuaries in Northeast Brazil, the Timonha/Ubatuba Estuarine Complex and adjacent coastal waters. The studies were important to propose the creation of a Wildlife Refuge within the Environmental Protection Area of Delta do Parnaíba, in order to ensure the environmental quality for the migratory birds and manatees, estimulate the artisanal fishing, to fight against predatory fishing and other activities that may harm this environment.

PMM has also developed research on the specie, that inhabit the border region between the states of Ceará and Rio Grande do Norte. A partnership between Aquasis, ICMBio, UERN e Funbio allowed the realization of spatial distribution, satellite tracking and abundance studies in this region that were fundamental to argument the extension of two municipal Environmental Protected Areas, an action that was obligatory to ensure the protection of important feeding areas and  freshwater resources for these mammals.

There has been about 500 registers of stranded Guiana dolphins in Ceará since 1994, which makes the cetacean with the highest mortality rate in the state. The fact that only a small portion of carcasses drift to the coast makes the real figure of dead animals alarming. PMM has worked to identify critical areas, an information that we can use to propose public policies and to change the attitude of the relevant communities. One of the most threatened population of guiana dolphins in Ceará inhabits the Mucuripe cove, with only 41 individuals. Even though the specie is reconized as a Natural Heritage from the municipality of Fortaleza, there has been little to no actions towards its protection.

Beach monitoring is an important tool for recording stranded marine mammals in our projects regarding research, conservation, and environmental licensing. Carcasses are collected and, when conditions allows, they pass through a detailed necroscopic analysis to determine the of death. Samples and skeletons are deposited in the Aquasis’s Biological Collection, which support several national and international researchers. Live animals are sent for CRMM, are rehabilitated in natural environment or transferred to other institutions legally licensed for such activity.

Our work towards the communities range from lectures to first-aid courses and workshops, in which people learn how to proceed when a stranded marine mammal has been found. We also promote local events where we preserve and support the cultural heritage of these regions, introducing the manatee and the guiana dolphin as symbols for the conservation of the marine environment and the artisanal fishing.

One of the strategies used by PMM to enforce marine mammals conservation is the proposal of public policies that cause a positive effect in the protection of the species and their habitats. Under our influence, two municipal regulations were created to protect the manatee: one in Aracati, Ceará (Law nº 394/2011) and the second in Icapuí, Ceará (Law nº 655/2015). The municipal Law nº 9949/2012 recognizes the Guiana dolphin as a Natural Heritage of Fortaleza, elects the July 4th as the Guiana Dolphin Municipal Day and acknowledges the responsibility of the preservation of the specie to the public administration and the community. Besides these specific regulations, PMM has worked with Coastal Bird Project proposing the creation and zonation of protected areas for marine mammals and other species that occur in the coastal zone.

The PAN Sirênios consists into a 5-year action plan that was published by ICMBio in 2011, a year after Brazilian researches were reunited to identify actions for the conservation of manatees, in 2010. Aquasis and PMM have participated in the elaboration and execution of the actions present in the PAN and are also part of the PAN monitoring commission. We have had the opportunity to develop a local action plan for the municipalities of Beberibe, Fortim, Aracati, and Icapuí , a moment where we can count on the support of many local partners. Finally, Aquasis have also participated in the elaboration and monitoring of the PAN Pequenos Cetáceos, a similar initiative that covers actions towards the preservation of the guiana dolphin and other cetaceans that occur off the coast of Ceará.

OUR TEAM

Carol Meirelles

Carol has a Ph.D. in Tropical Marine Sciences. She has coordinated the PMM since 2008, researching about the populational and spatial ecology of the manatee and the guiana dolphin.

Cristine Negrão

Cristine graduated in Biology from the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and one of the founders of Aquasis, being also part of its Board of Directors. She conducts researches on the manatees that inhabit the east coast of Ceará, especially in the region of Icapuí.

Vitor Luz Carvalho

Vitor graduated in Veterinary Medicine from the State University of Ceará (UECE) and has a Ph.D. in Medical Microbiology from the Federal University of Ceará (2015). He has experience in the areas of parasitology, microbiology, pathological anatomy and medical clinic of aquatic mammals.

Antonio Amancio

Amâncio graduated in Biology from the Vale do Acaraú State University /UVA (2008-2011). He has been part of our team since 2001, where he began his activities in the field of biology, specifically with marine mammals, integrating the rescue team of the Marine Mammal Program. He is the Rescue Coordinator and Curator of the institution's marine mammal osteological collection.

Katherine Fiedler Choi Lima

Marine Biologist from UNISANTA (2004) and Master in Tropical Marine Sciences from UFC (2011), Katherine has acted as researcher and member of the rescue team of Aquasis Marine Mammal Program (PMM) since 2005.

Amanda Oliveira

Amanda is graduated in Biology from the Federal University of Ceará (UFC) and is part of our team of rescue and rehabilitation. She has volunteered in the PMM since 2010. As a trainee of the Sirenios Monitoring Program (PMS), she has developed the activities of point-to-point monitoring, telemetry monitoring, and overflight for manatees counting.

Wenderson

Wenderson is one of the marine manatee keepers of our CRMM, and also assisted Amâncio in Aquasis osteomontage work. He first heard about Aquasis when he participated in our Nature Brigade project, when he was 13 years old.

Guilherme

Guilherme has been manatee keeper at our CRMM February, 2016. He is the responsible for feeding and supplying fresh water to the animals. He has always carried out his activities with great care and affection and has been always attentive to the behavior of the animals.

Neto

Neto is responsible for the water quality in the tanks of our CRMM. He dedicates himself daily to maintain all the desired standards (physical, chemical and biological) so that the animals can grow in a healthy environment.

Ivonaldo

Mr. Ivonaldo is one of the oldest employees of the CRMM and one of the most focused and dedicated. He is responsible for the cleaning and organization of the spaces, as well as minor repairs to our structure.

Mr. Francisco

He learned how to be a gardener from his father. He shares with Mr. Ivonaldo the responsability of taking care of the green spaces in the Aquasis and CRMM area. He also works with the production of native tree seedlings.

Contact Us

/pmmaquasis

pmm@aquasis.org

+55 (85) 3113-2137/ +55 (85) 99800-0109

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