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Aug 22, 2017

Pregnant manatee struck by boat; search continues for another mother and calf

The number of manatee fatalities annually continues to rise and despite conservation and awareness efforts by Sea to Shore Alliance, in particular Jamal Galvez, the population continues to be threatened by boaters along the coast of Belize City. So far, there have been twenty-eight deaths since the start of the year. News Five’s Duane Moody reports from Vista Del Mar where a search continues for an orphaned calf.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Belizehas the largest and healthy population of manatee in the Caribbean, but for years the sea cow species has been under threat from boaters at the mouth of theBelizeRiverand along the coast ofBelize City. Over the weekend, two female manatees, one with a calf attached, were spotted in distress near the Vista Del Mar community in Ladyville. On Monday, their worst fears were confirmed; a nine-foot-long female manatee that had just given birth was discovered dead in a canal.

 

Jamal Galvez, Program Coordinator, Sea to Shore Alliance

Jamal Galvez

“About five o’clock we got a call about a manatee that had been behaving unusual seem like it was injured. So we had some volunteers that came out on Sunday to have a look and they didn’t see it but there was video footage of the animal; it was acting strangely…perhaps an animal that had been hit with by a boat or an animal giving birth. The animal had a young calf with it and that is need for concern. An injured mother is not a hundred percent to look after a young calf. Anyways, yesterday we came out in search of the calf and mother, our efforts was to rescue the mother and the calf. We were unable to find the one that was videoed in the footage and while we were searching we found another female animal, coincidentally it is a female and the vaginal area was bulge indicating that may be giving birth or may have given birth. Her teats were swollen and lactating.”

 

Today, a Sea to Shore Alliance duo headed by Jamal Galvez carried out a necropsy on the female manatee which confirmed that the mammal had recently given birth and was struck by a boat, which caused her death.

 

Jamal Galvez

“We just did an assessment on the animal and we saw huge lacerations from boat interaction that led to the animal’s demise and there was no calf inside so that is definitely need for more concern, meaning that there is a calf somewhere out there trying to fend for itself. Usually cases you would find a dead female and a calf would stay alongside its mother. But obviously the calf isn’t here and the search party is trying to find that calf as soon as possible because a young calf wouldn’t be able to survive more than two to three days in the wild Duane.”

 

Reporter

“Now has it been confirmed that this is the same one that was spotted in another canal further down?”

 

Jamal Galvez

“I don’t think it is the same one mainly because of the decomposition state and I didn’t see the laceration that was observed in the previous video on this one. And because of the fact that this one was actually reported but wasn’t confirmed, the day we were searching for the female, this one was reported a day ahead. So it couldn’t be the same one. So there is another mother out there. So our efforts need to be strengthened out there because we are looking for an injured female and a young calf and an orphaned calf somewhere.”

 

Residents are asked to be on the lookout for a female manatee and its calf. But in the same vein, Galvez says that boaters need to adhere to no wake zones and be more careful when traversing these waterways.

 

Jamal Galvez

“We continue to emphasize to boaters please be cautious when you are traveling areas where manatee live. Give these guys a chance to get out of the way. I mean the numbers have continued to increase yearly. This is number twenty-eight if I am not mistaken so far for this year and it is not going in the right direction. I don’t know. People have to change their behavior and be aware of their surroundings and have a sense of care for these species as well.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

 

Residents are asked to contact Galvez at 615-3838 for information on injured manatees. 

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