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Jun 17, 2014

It’s manatee mating season

Sightings of manatees in our coastal waters are no rare occurrence, in fact, the large sea mammals are usually spotted near the mouth of the Belize River.  What is uncommon is the location of a large herd near the city’s shoreline…but it is mating season.  This morning, Program Coordinator for the Belize Manatee Conservation Program, Jamal Galvez was alerted to the presence of a wounded manatee in the area of Bally Gardens near mile four on the Phillip Goldson Highway.  When he responded to the scene, Galvez was shocked to find that a herd of up to twenty-five bulls were taking turns mating with a sea cow, in estrus, in the shallow waters nearby.  While the copulation of these mammals is rarely caught on film, boaters are being advised to exercise caution in the area since manatee traffic has increased considerably.

 

Jamal Galvez, Program Coordinator, Belize Manatee Conservation Program

Jamal Galvez

“We were called out first of all about an injured manatee. We went out there and realized that it was a mating heard. It has been there since last Saturday from what I have understand. Manatees mate all year around, but we tend to see it more around summer time and it is a very interesting way to see manatees. It is not the normal behavior; it is very aggressive. It is twenty to twenty-five males chasing one female. It is right there at mile four; we went out there and we investigated and we saw a huge female chased by twenty to twenty-five males like I just said. And it is really reassuring based on the last two weeks of manatee deaths that we have had to see manatees mating, which assures us that there may be one or two calves—cause they can have two, but they normally have one—coming in the next twelve months because they are pregnant for twelve months, like horse. So it is really great news and it is encouraging that the population is actually revolving and there is addition to the population despite the increase in manatee deaths.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What are the warnings at this point seeing as though water crafts may be trafficking that particular area and you have all these animals that are near to the shore?”

 

Jamal Galvez

“Exactly, the area that they are in is the Belize River area; it is the area that has the highest percentage of manatee deaths every year…last year twenty-eight and it just has been going up every year. So we are pleading to motor, anybody that is traveling in that area, please be on the lookout for these manatees. I expect that they are going to be up and down in that area for the next week or so. So if you are in that area, please just take a minute to keep an eye out, have a lookout at the bow or put other precautionary measures in place so we don’t have any incidents with these manatees. We can’t afford any more manatee deaths as it is right now. The amount that we’ve had so far this year is not good news at all. It was good to see the animals are intermingling, they are mating and hopefully in the next twelve months, we may have something from the activities that we saw out there today.”

 

A total of four manatees were killed during the last week in May in an area not distant from where the herd has gathered.

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