Manatee protection moves ahead at legislature

School children in Limón Centro have been successful in getting a legislative committee to advance a bill to make the manatee the symbol of  Costa Rica marine life.

The manatee, also known as a sea cow, is a large mammal that can be found as far north as Florida in the Northern Hemisphere winter. Many live along the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica.

The protective action Thursday was in the  Comisión Permanente Especial de Ciencia, Tecnología y Educación. The bill creating the designation now goes to the full legislature.

The measure specifically covers the West Indian manatee, Trichechus Manatus, one of at least four species. The creatures can reach 200 to 600 kilos (440 to 1,300 pounds) and may be up to 3.5 meters (11 feet long).

The primary predator of this endangered species are humans. The creatures have been hunted for food, become entangled in nets, are injured by boats and can suffer from pollution.

The measure that now goes to the legislative floor also would create sanctuaries where the animals are known to exist along the Caribbean coast. Students from Escuela Barrio Limoncito started the campaign to win recognition for the animal.

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