Dónde ver manatíes y dugongos

Have you ever wanted to experience a Manatee or a Dugong while diving, snorkeling or on a boat close up in their natural habitat?

We have done the research and show you the best places to meet Dugongs and Manatees or even swim with them. 

Las vacas marinas se consideran vulnerables a la extinción. Hay varias leyes internacionales que protegen a estos animales, como la Ley de Protección de Mamíferos Marinos. Aún así, están bajo una grave amenaza de peligros inducidos por el hombre como la pérdida de hábitat debido al desarrollo costero, las colisiones de embarcaciones y la caza furtiva.  

Check out our blog about the Best Places to dive and Swim with Dolphins .

Puedes leer el artículo completo o saltar a tu parte favorita de ¡Dónde ver Manatíes!

Get to know Manatees

Endangerment of Manatees and Dugongs

The Best Places to see and swim with Manatees or Dugongs

Conoce a los manatíes

Los manatíes viven en las aguas poco profundas de las zonas costeras marinas, así como en hábitats de agua dulce. Sólo se pueden encontrar en las aguas cálidas de las regiones tropicales. A diferencia de las focas, no tienen extremidades adecuadas para moverse en tierra, nunca salen del agua. Pasan sus días a la deriva lentamente mientras pastan o duermen. Los manatíes tienen que salir a la superficie en intervalos para respirar. 

Diferencias entre un dugongo y un manatí

Para los no expertos es fácil confundirse con las diferencias entre los manatíes y los dugongos. Puede que conozcas los nombres Dugong o vaca marina o incluso Sirenia. Así que vamos a empezar con una pequeña aclaración. En la taxonomía de los animales hablamos del orden de las Sirenias o, usando una expresión mucho más popular, vacas marinas. El nombre de vaca marina viene de su dieta preferida, que es el pasto marino.

Sus parientes más cercanos en el reino animal son los elefantes. Bajo el orden de las vacas marinas tenemos dos familias. Una comprende tres especies diferentes de manatíes. La otra familia consiste en una sola especie restante que se llama Dugong. Como todas estas vacas marinas son primas, se parecen mucho, con la mayor diferencia en sus colas. Los manatíes tienen colas en forma de paletas y los dugongos tienen colas en forma de cola. Para facilitar las cosas, aquí las llamamos simplemente vaca marina o manatí. Aprenda más Dónde ver Manatíes.

Datos clave de los manatíes y dugongos

Aquí hay algunos datos clave sobre los dugongos y los manatíes. La siguiente tabla es buena para obtener una visión general sobre ellos.

Longitud del cuerpode 2.5 a 4 m (de 8 a 13 pies)
HábitatManatí: agua dulce y salada; dugongo: solo agua salada
Pesohasta los 1,500 kg (3,300 libras)
DietaLa mayoría de los pastos marinos y otras plantas acuáticas, ocasionalmente invertebrados, comen entre el 10 y el 15% de su peso corporal por día (aprox. 50 kg / 110 libras).
Duración de las sumersionesde 5 a 20 minutos
Edad máximaManatí: 40 años; dugongo: 60 años

¿Dónde viven los manatíes y dugongos?

The distribution areas of the four families of sea-cows do not overlap and are sometimes very far apart (see map below). The so called West Indian manatee lives in the Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of Florida and the south-eastern USA, the coasts of Central America, the Caribbean Islands, and the northern coasts of South America (green area).

Next to it in the Amazon region in South America lives the Amazonian manatee (red area) and finally on the coasts of West Africa between Senegal and northern Angola and in the river systems there lives the African manatee (orange area). All about Where to see Manatees.

La única especie viviente de dugongo se encuentra exclusivamente en las costas del Océano Índico, incluido el Mar Rojo, y el Océano Pacífico sudoccidental (zona azul).

Indio en verde, amazónico en rojo, africano en naranja, dugongo en azul source:  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sirenia_distribution.png#/media/File:Sirenia_distribution.png

Manatíes y dugongos en peligro de extinción

Both, Manatees and Dugongs are quite vulnerable to environmental changes lead by humans as they are not fast and very peaceful. The occupation by land as well as our fishing habits and boat engines combined pose a massive threat for Manatees and Dugongs.

Most species are now seen as vulnurable by the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. If you want to contribute ot the rescue of manates and dugongs we recommend visiting the Dugong and Seagrass Conservation Project or Save the Manatee Club

¿Cuán vulnerables son los manatíes?

Todas las especies de manatíes fueron cazadas para carne por los habitantes de las costas de sus áreas de distribución. Esto está documentado especialmente para los indios de las costas de América del Norte y Central. La carne se utilizaba como alimento y la piel y otras partes del cuerpo para otros fines.

William Dampier, who became known as a British buccaneer and traveller, described in his travelogues of 1681 the Caribbean manatee from the Gulf of Mexico as well as from the rivers of Panama. There he also described the hunting of the animals by the Miskito and the subsequent use of the meat as food and the rough skin as oars and horse whips.

However, no excessive hunting is known to have taken place, the hunt was usually for current needs. In contrast, Steller’s manatees were pursued by seal hunters from the time of their discovery and killed in large numbers. The last animals disappeared in 1768, only 27 years after their discovery by Georg Wilhelm Steller. All about Where to see Manatees.

¿Cuán vulnerables son los dugongos?

Today, all four living species are listed as endangered by the IUCN [2]. The greatest threat today, however, is no longer from hunting, but, especially for the Caribbean manatee, from pleasure craft that can inflict serious injuries on the animals with their propellers when they are run over.

For this reason, protected areas have been created, especially off the US coasts in the Gulf of Mexico, and clearly visible signs have been put up to indicate this; motorboat traffic is not permitted in these areas.

A further threat is the penetration of humans into their habitat; due to their metabolism, manatees need an immense amount of water plants to cover their energy requirements and thus a corresponding water quality, which is decreasing more and more due to the development of their retreat areas.

Especially the rivers in South America and Africa are becoming increasingly cloudy and contaminated with environmental toxins, and retreat areas rich in plants are becoming rare.

Manatíes en la selva del Amazonas

Amazon manatees, like all manatees, spend their entire lives in the water. However, as air-breathers they emerge several times per minute to breathe, but can also stay underwater for up to 15 minutes. They prefer waters with temperatures between 22 and 30 degrees Celsius. Amazon manatees are pure herbivores and feed on water plants.

However, since their herbivorous diet is not very energy-rich, they must consume about 8 to 15 percent of their own body weight daily in order to survive. Manatees can store large amounts of fat as bubbles and can thus bridge long periods of hunger. In dry periods, when no water plants are available, they can survive up to six months without food.

Although the Amazon Manatee is spread over a large area and has hardly any natural enemies, it has become very rare and is considered endangered in its survival. Its peaceableness, slowness, and its coveted fat and meat have made it an easy and popular prey for humans.

Further, serious dangers threaten the Amazon Manatee today due to the rapidly progressing clearing of the Amazon rainforests for timber production, for soya, palm oil and other plantations, or for mining and cattle grazing. That is why the WWF has been working for a long time on various levels to save the Amazon rainforest. The «Amazon Region Protected Areas Programme» (ARPA), whose implementation the WWF is playing a major role in, aims to put 50 million hectares, an area the size of Spain, in the Amazon rainforest under permanent protection within ten years.

La historia de Phu Quoc, Vietnam como ejemplo de la amenaza a los manatíes

They look like they’ve fallen out of time: Massive, misshapen, gray giants: Carefully, the shy forked-tailed manatees, weighing up to 1,000 kilograms, roam the tropically warm water around the largest Vietnamese island Phu Quoc.

Fork-tailed manatees – also known as dugongs – can grow to over three metres in length. They are vegetarians. They graze calmly for hours in the seagrass fields on the seabed in shallow water near the coast.

No tienen enemigos naturales. Excepto los humanos. La gigantesca inundación de basura que millones de turistas han dejado en la isla desde hace varios años está contaminando el ecosistema extremadamente sensible y rico en especies del Mar del Sur de China.

Los manatíes, que ya están en peligro, están en peligro, al igual que las tortugas marinas, los pulpos, los caballitos de mar y numerosas especies de peces tropicales.

Sin los manatíes, el sensible ecosistema se desviará de su curso…

Frente a Phu Quoc la basura plástica está visiblemente flotando en las olas. «Los pescadores y los barcos turísticos tiran sus residuos por la borda», dice Stefan Ziegler de WWF Alemania. Cada día, toneladas de basura son descargadas en el mar a través de los ríos porque no hay un sistema de eliminación de residuos en funcionamiento en la isla, que es invadida por los turistas.

Las áreas protegidas en los arrecifes de coral y praderas de pastos marinos de Phu Quoc están masivamente amenazadas por esto.

Sea turtles confuse plastic bags floating in the water with jellyfish and die in agony. «Manatees get entangled in ghost nets and drown,» says Stefan Ziegler. And they lose their most important source of food due to increasing marine pollution – the sea grass meadows, which are shrinking worldwide anyway.

Filled with plastic, they are not only lost as grazing ground for manatees and nursery grounds for numerous fish species, but also as an important oxygen supplier in the sea. All about Where to see Manatees.

Los mejores lugares para ver y nadar con los manatíes o los dugongos

Hemos hecho una investigación exhaustiva para encontrar para usted los mejores lugares para nadar, bucear o simplemente observar a los manatíes y dugongos.

1. Los manatíes en el Condado de Citrus, Florida, EE.UU.

Citrus County calls itself as the Manatee capital in the world. You find a great number of tour operators which bring you close to the Manatees who enjoy all year round the crystal clear warm spring waters.

As to your liking you can experience these animals by approaching them safely in a tour boat, during an adventurous kayak or canoe tour or by swimming or diving with them. 

  1. Explorida
  2. Manatee Adventures
  3. Family Adventure Charters
  4. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
  5. Manatee paddle
  6. Pontoon Tours – kayaking and diving
  7. Captain Mike’s swimming with the Manatees

Aquí también hay un video de cómo se ve nadar con los manatíes en Florida.

2. Conoce a los dugongos en Palawan, Filipinas

Palawan es la isla más occidental de Filipinas. Lo que hace de la isla un paraíso exótico son sus extrañas formaciones rocosas como de otro mundo, aguas turquesas cristalinas, lagunas escondidas e incontables playas de ensueño de arena fina, pero también su flora y fauna únicas, tanto por encima como por debajo del agua.

Los dugongos se pueden encontrar en el mar de coral alrededor de la isla. Puedes hacer excursiones para conocer a estos gentiles mamíferos viéndolos en un paseo en barco o hacer snorkel o buceo. 

  1. Dugong Dive Center, en la isla de Basuanga, Palawan
  2. Busuanga Bay Divers, en la isla de Basuanga, Palawan

3. Dugongos, Costa de Coral y Arrecife Ningaloo, Australia

Shark Bay y, en menor medida, el parque marino de Ningaloo son los dos lugares de la costa oeste de Australia en los que tiene más posibilidades de ver dugongos en estado salvaje.

Shark Bay is one of the world’s largest population of this endangered mammal species. It is estimated that 10,000 dugongs live in the waters of Shark Bay, representing 10% of the world’s remaining population.

Shark Bay is a World Heritage Site located 800 km (500 mi) north of Perth on the westernmost point of the Australian continent. Shark Bay’s waters have a number of exceptional natural features, including one of the largest and most diverse seagrass beds in the world. No wonder that it hosts such a big number of dugongs.


The Ningaloo Reef is located approximately 400 km (250 mi) north of Shark Bay. It is the world’s largest fringing reef which comes in some places as close as 100 metres (328 ft) to the coast.

Aside from a population of Dugongs, which can be seen during boat cruises the reef is especially known for whale sharks who gather there each year from March until August. All about Where to see Manatees.

Más información sobre bucear con dugongos puede ser encontrada aquí.

  1. Shark Bay Dive and Marine Safaris ofrecen safaris marinos, snorkel y viajes de buceo.
  2. Exmouth Dive and Whalesharks, Ningaloo Reef

4. Dugongos en la Moreton Bay Australia (costa este)

El Hábitat de los dugongos se extiende desde la bahía de Moreton hasta el norte de Queensland. Se cree que hay 14.000 dugongos en la costa de Queensland.

  1. Go Dive Brisbane
  2. Dolphin White Island Cruises, ofrece excursiones de un día para ver dugongos y mucha otra vida marina en Moreton Bay.
  3. Tangalooma Island Resort, detecta dugongos durante un crucero de descubrimiento marino.

5. Dugongos en Abu Dabbab, Mar Rojo, Egipto

Abu Dabbab is a wonderful bay with white beaches located 30 km (19 mi) north of Marsa Alam at the Egyptian red sea coast. It is home to wide seagrass beds which attracts Dugongs and the giant Green Sea Turtles.

You can encounter these animals and many other marine species during swimming and snorkeling from the beach. Many dive centers of the hotels in the area offer day trip to Abu Dabbab.

Un operador turístico que organiza viajes de snorkel y recogidas en hoteles es Abu Dabbab Dugong Bay Marsa Alam Tours. Otro artículo que puede interesarle es dónde ver a los delfines en la naturaleza.

Resumen sobre dónde ver Manatíes y Dugongos

Manatees and Dugongs are extremely gentle creatures and old relatives of our beloved elephant.

Of course, a lot of people would like to see them in the wild and we encourage that as long as everyone is giving them the respect they deserve.

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