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Manatees in Mexico

Vinay Patel

They say truth is stranger than fiction, well in this instance I’d say whoever said that was right.

Before the Spanish arrived in the Americas, Mexico City was a huge basin that was littered with lakes and canals. It was, if you can imagine it, something like Venice. Enter the conquistadors who arrive- drain everything, eventually leading to the concrete and asphalt monstrosity we have today.

Yet, in one small section of the city in the south, some of these canals remain making for a nice contrast to the hustle and bustle of the city and providing a great place for tourists to float around and get drunk. Unfortunately, the water has become dangerously polluted by run-off and has turned a sickly zombie green colour with a lot of polluted algae sitting on the surface.

30 years ago a solution was proposed- a boat would come by and shred the algae, problem solved; well not really. The algae sank to the bottom and starting rotting, leading to even more environmental problems.

Another problem, another solution.

Enter scientists from UNAM (Mexico’s premier university) and some scientists from the U.S, who propose they release 5 manatees into the canals to eat the algae and become another popular tourist attraction.

A month later the scientists return and find no manatees. They’d all been eaten by the local residence who had no idea what they were.

The world really is a wonderful place.

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