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Jul 28, 2014

Female Manatee Killed in Water-taxi Mishap…

It has not been a good year for manatees; a growing number of the endangered mammals has been killed in boating accidents. Over the weekend, a mature female manatee perished after she was hit by a Caye Caulker Water Taxi in the area of the tourist village. Conservationists, who were alerted by a passenger on the boat, say that the tail of the sea cow was almost severed causing it to hemorrhage to death. According to Jamal Galvez, the Belize Manatee Conservation Program has put up signs to warn boaters that the area remains a no wake zone.

 

Jamal Galvez, Program Coordinator, Belize Manatee Conservation Program

Jamal Galvez

“On Saturday evening, about five-thirty, we got a call from a passenger that was traveling on the Caye Caulker Water Taxi. She allege that while travelling on the water taxi, while coming into Belize City, just in front of the Tourist Village they felt a huge bump on the boat. All passengers noticed the bump and the baot stopped for a couple seconds and the co-captain of the boat told the captain that it was a manatee that they hit. This is what she explained. They carried on, but she was concerned so she contacted the Humane Society, which contacted us. We went out there to look for the manatee assuming that it was a manatee that got hit by a boat and may be injured and needed some assistance. We had people canvassing the entire area and around six-thirty; we managed to locate the animal. The animal was already dead and we found the animal floating just in front of the tourist village in the same area where it was alleged to have been hit by the boat. The animal had huge cut wounds in the lower section of the body, almost taking the tail off. One in the head, which penetrated about five to six inches into the skull. I presume the animal died almost instantly as a result of the impact. It was alleged that the boat wasn’t traveling at full speed, but it was traveling quite swiftly and it was within a no wake zone. The area is clearly marked and these guys travel this area frequently so they are aware of the no wake zone. Here with me is Mister Garcia from the Port Authority who will highlight the Port aspect of the situation. It has been reported to the forest department who has the mandate on manatee and they are going to be looking into the situation as killing a manatee in such area is an offence. Our main focus has been at the Belize River Mouth, at the Haulover Creek because that is where we have the majority of manatee deaths as a result of water craft collision. It still is the main focus, it is still the area that produces the highest, but it is discouraging to see that there is now another area that is having the same situation. For a manatee to be hit within a no wake zone is uncalled for, it is not tolerated mien; that’s below low.  You are supposed to be going slow within that area so to hit a manatee within that area, it is really the last thing that we want to see a manatee die from. Belize has the highest population of this species in the world and it is something that we should protect. We have already put posters in the area, in the water taxis, in the tourist villages; giving the numbers to call if incidents such as these happen. And if you are a passenger on one of these boats, we ask that you report any boats that are not complying to these situations. We would hope that if you hit a manatee—whether it be by accident—call it in; it gives us an opportunity to go out there and look into it…perhaps it is an animal that we could have helped or saved.”

 

The Port Authority and the Forest Department will be looking into the matter. The owner of the company is also doing internal investigation into the matter.

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