Last updated: 04:45 PM ET, Fri August 28 2015

Opinion Home | Dolphin Discovery, Home of the Most Loved Dolphins

  • Addy Gamboa | August 28, 2015 4:45 PM ET

    Romeo and Juliet: A Story About Love Under Water

    Romeo and Juliet: A Story About Love Under Water

    No, it’s not about the Shakespeare’s great novel, this is the story of two manatees that, just as the characters of the classic novel, scatter love wherever they go and with whomever they meet. 

    On a visit to Dolphin Discovery Puerto Aventuras, I stumbled upon these amazing creatures. They are the cutest blobs you have ever seen. Manatees are endangered species. They have a distant relative in common with elephants and in the past they were legendary, sailors swore they were mermaids who lured them into deep waters with their mesmerizing songs; even Christopher Columbus in 1493, wrote on his memories the encounter with 3 mermaids that were “not as pretty as they are depicted, for somehow the face looked more like a man’s." I guess he was a bit disappointed. 

    Aside from the myths, I was so curious about these mammals that I asked the dolphinarium’s Environmental Educator about them. She told me facts about the species but above all I was really interested on how they arrived to Dolphin Discovery. 

    In 2001, by the Mexican Government’s request, Dolphin Discovery rescued 2 manatees, Romeo and Juliet, from the Mexican state of Tabasco. These manatees where in very poor health conditions as they lived in a polluted lagoon with scarce food supply. From that moment on, Romeo and Juliet were bound to make history. 

    Upon their arrival, Veterinarians and Marine Mammal Specialists were ready to medically treat and rehabilitate them at their new home, Dolphin Discovery Puerto Aventuras. Day and night, veterinarians and trainers were in the water feeding, medicating, petting and giving them love. They both recovered and adapted real fast to their new family. 

    In 2002, the first manatee interactions started at Dolphin Discovery Puerto Aventuras. For every guest that met them, it was love at first sight. Guests had the chance to get into the water to pet, kiss and feed the manatees, as Marine Mammals Specialists told them about the species. This was the perfect opportunity for Dolphin Discovery to educate about this amazing and endangered species, thus creating conscience and awareness and therefore encouraging people to respect the manatees’ natural environment. It was a life changing experience both for Dolphin Discovery’s staff and guests. 

    In 2007, the unthinkable happened. Juliet gave birth to a baby manatee, Yoltzin. This was a very important step towards preservation of the species; breeding manatees in human care was only experienced once before in Mexico. Female manatees get pregnant every two to five years in the wild, as these animals are solitary, and usually only one calf is born. The calf stays with the mother for about two years in which it learns about feeding spots and migration to hot waters. 

    Since then, Romeo and Juliet have had 6 calves. Dolphin Discovery has kept on rescuing manatees along with the Mexican Government and currently is home to 14. A team of veterinarians and marine mammal specialists is devoted to research of the species. Dolphin Discovery has won four international awards for its investigation and medical procedures. This team has researched about manatees’ teeth; it was the first one to obtain voluntary gastric juice samples and, most importantly, voluntary semen samples as well. Can you imagine if science could reproduce an endangered species through this? The last census in Mexico resulted in approximately 1,200 manatees, which is very few. Every year, 50 to 70 manatees die, though according to researchers, last year the population census was stable. If we keep on invading manatees’ natural environment, in 10 to 12 years they could be extinct in Florida in the U.S., where most manatees live. 

    Manatees do not have natural predators. They are vulnerable to water temperature and some diseases but mostly to boat strikes and fishing gear entanglement. Sadly, the major predators are humans with illegal hunting and water pollution. There’s still hope though, manatee population is stabilizing thanks to the effort of government and institutions such as Dolphin Discovery that research and rescue manatees as well as create awareness. 

    Romeo and Juliet are still spreading love and changing the lives of guests from all over the world. Don’t forget to visit them on your next trip to the Mayan Riviera. A kiss from them will rock your world for sure. 


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Addy Gamboa Dolphin Discovery, Home of the Most Loved Dolphins

Addy Gamboa Addy Gamboa is Corporate Marketing Manager of Dolphin Discovery, the biggest Dolphin Company in the world and the largest Park operator in Latin America. She is in charge of marketing strategies, publicity and branding of the company’s 16 dolphinariums, located in 6 different countries, along with 5 other brands of Dolphin Discovery Group.
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