The manatee (manati of the West Indies, also called manatim or iguaragua in colonial Brazil) was highly valued and presented a broad historical geographic distribution in coastal, transitional and fluvial areas of the tropical Atlantic Ocean. Documental and iconographic sources of the 16th and 17th centuries show us that it was used as food and for medicinal purposes, to manufacture tools or even as a pet. Moreover, its economic and symbolic value was equally relevant. Continued overexploitation led to the disappearance of many populations of manatees, which are currently at the brinck of extinction. We will explore, from the point of view of marine environmental history, the pragmatic and symbolic meaning of the manatee in close connection to the importance given to rivers and watercourses. We also expect to contribute to place manatees and their ecosystem at the center of the discussion about the environmental and sociocultural contexts and interactions of indigenous and colonial societies in the Americas of the modern period.
- Marine Environmental History
- Aquatic environment
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
- SDG 14 - Life Below Water