Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Proceedings, Presentations, Speeches, Lectures


Memories of Manatee Hunting from Campesinos in Veracruz, Mexico

Event Name/Location

American Anthropological Association Annual Meeting, Philadelphia, PA, December 2-6, 2009

Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



Self-identified campesinos were interviewed in a riparian and lagoon ecosystem in the state of Veracruz, Mexico as part of this qualitative research study. Participants had first-hand historical knowledge about hunting the Antillean manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) or about preparing the manatee for human consumption. The hunting occurred prior to the passage of measures to protect the species in Mexico. Participants explained how they captured and killed manatees, the age stage of the manatees chosen, what hunting tools were used, and with what frequency they hunted manatees. Interviewees also classified and described various types of meat that they took from manatees and the role the species played in their subsistence lifestyle. Participants were also interviewed about their general knowledge of manatee behavior and biology. The lagoon ecosystem that surrounds the area is greatly degraded from drainage and its contemporary inhabitants speak of the ecological past with a great deal of wistfulness and a sense of loss characterized as “environmental regret.” The study examines the evolution of contemporary campesino attitudes toward manatees, their protection, and environmental conservation in light of their changing environmental and cultural circumstances.

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