Behavioural research in endangered manatees is essential for successful conservation management. We examined the activities and social interactions of a captive group of Antillean manatees located in the Dolphin Discovery Park in Mexico. The group studied was composed of two adults, one subadult and one calf. We determined activity patterns and space use of the manatees in a natural water pool over a daytime period and a night-time period. The behavioural strategies of the manatees included (1) during the day, mainly foraging, feeding, and remaining inactive, and (2) evening activities were divided among social interaction, environment exploration, and resting activities. All the behaviour patterns of the captive manatees seemed to be influenced by the feeding schedule during the day. The number of contacts between manatees increased strongly at night, each individual having a preferred partner for social interaction. The cow-calf dyad showed the highest intensity of contacts, whereas subadults showed the lowest. The relationships observed among individuals reveal a higher social activity than previously described in Antillean manatees.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York