Newcastle University Project Mermaid: Venezuela expedition 1992

Lucy Ward

A biological survey of vertebrate species concentrating on the manatees in two river systems in a mangrove ecosystem: Cano La Brea, an undisturbed waterway where the West Indian manatee (Trichechus manatus) is found and Cano Caicual, an area affected by human activites. In addition, a basic floating research station was established to aid future work. Team hope to include area within Parque Nacional Turuepano. The permanent research station is now staffed with a warden. (MKP questionnaire)

Project update: 16/2/98. Project Mermaid conducted biological surveys of vertebrate species in two wetland ecosystems in the Orinoco delta, paying special attention to West Indian Manatee. In 1994, members of the team returned on a self-financed follow-up expedition. Despite setbacks, the project established a basic floating research platform, gathered data on mammal and bird species and assessed the main threats to the area. The work flagged the site as a biodiversity hotspot central to Manatee conservation in Venezuela. The area is near to the BP Amoco operations at Pedernales. In 1998 BP were working to develop a project with the Venezuelan government and NGOs to protect this area and promote further scientific research at the site. (K. Gotto verbally 1998).