Monday, June 6, 2011

Nonfiction Monday: The Manatee Scientists

The Manatee Scientist: Saving Vulnerable Species
by Peter Lourie
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011
Grades 4 and up
Reviewed from purchased copy.

I'll start by saying that I really like the Scientists in the Field series, and this one is no different.  The high quality photographs and straight forward writing make these books fascinating to read.  I didn't like this one quite as much as some of the others that I've read, but it is still good and shows the impact that field work can have in the real world.

In this book, the author follows the efforts of three groups of scientists who are studying the three different species of manatees, in Florida, the Amazon River basin, and coastal West Africa. Lourie makes it clear that the Florida manatees have been studied the most because they are the easiest to locate. The Amazon River Basin is enormous and the murky water makes it hard to see these creatures who spend much of their time well below the surface.  The same problem exists in West Africa.

In the Amazon River Basin, Dr. Fernando Rosas and his team keep thirty plus animals in captivity in order to study them, but they are also tracking two manatees that they released into the wild.  In Florida, Dr. John Reynolds and his team conduct population surveys by airplane, in addition to photo identification and mark-and-recapture modeling (capture a certain number of animals, then tag and release, and come back later to capture the same number, estimating population by number of already tagged animals they recapture). Biologist Lucy Keith spends a lot of time interviewing local fishermen and hunters in order to get estimates on how many manatees live in the area and how they live, she also strives to encourage conservation.

The design of this book, as in all the others in the series that I've read, is high, the photographs nicely compliment the writing as much as possible (considering that several of these teams can't find the animals in the wild).  The writing is clear and crisp and easy to follow.  Highly recommended for those who love learning about how science works.

Nonfiction Monday is being hosted today by Chapter Book of the Day.


  1. I'll have to look for this one! Thanks for participating in Nonfiction Monday this week!
    :-) Anastasia

  2. This is the first time I have heard of the Scientist in the Field series. Sounds like a excellent compliment to science curriculum to show the relevance of the subject in a geniune way. Thanks for sharing.


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