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Aug 24, 2011

More manatee deaths; are mariners to blame?

In recent times, a growing number of manatees have turned up dead along the coasts. Researchers believe that the manatee population is under threat. This morning, an injured sea cow was spotted near the Haulover and another turned up dead. News Five’s Jose Sanchez reports.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting

Manatee researchers were back near the Haulover looking for a newborn manatee. It’s mother was killed in an area heavily trafficked by mariners.

Jamal Galvez, Manatee Researcher

Jamal Galvez

“Upon arrival the calf had already departed from the area and we had canvassed the area to try and find the calf in order to recover it and maybe to take it to the rehabilitation center where we can try to rehabilitate it and then later release it into the wild. The mother had apparent signs of dislodged ribs probably from an impact from a boat and the calf is somewhere out here. Today we came out to look for the calf. Someone had spotted the calf so we came out to try and recover it again.”

The manatee researchers were assisted by children in a floating refrigerator who also saw the calf early in the morning.  And while the joint search was underway, the search team found another dead manatee.

Jamal Galvez

“Upon looking for the calf, we found another dead one, a female adult manatee, In the area that looked like it had signs of boat strikes as well. So it shows that boating in this area is causing huge impact on the manatee life and it’s becoming more and more and more and more.”

Jose Sanchez

“Is this area frequented a lot by boats related to tourism?”

Jamal Galvez

“Yeah this area is used mostly by tour boats that go up in the area to do different tours and it’s mostly tour operators that use this area and as you’ve seen earlier, you have boats speeding through here regardless of the many debris and trees in the water which is danger also for them. And they are not respecting the area.”

Nicole Gomez

Nicole Gomez, Conservation Biologist /Consultant

“We have two dead female manatees not far from the Belize River and it is highly suspected, a necropsy will be done on the fresh one yesterday. It’s most likely cause of death is from impact from a boat because we see this is a high traffic area for boats. Boats speed very fast into the Belize River here at this mouth of the Haulover entrance and it’s unfortunate because in one case at least, we have a dead female that had a calf, a baby manatee. The female that died was lactating which means the calf was a dependent calf still nursing. So at this stage what we are attempting to do is locate and rescue the calf because it will need assistance in order to survive. There is a manatee rehabilitation facility in Sarteneja in the Corozal District and that’s where we would transport the animal for rehabilitation. So the main issue here, we will ask boaters to please slow down at the Belize River mouth. When we were canvassing for the calf, we saw a group of five manatees and we believe at least one of them was a calf—alive—swimming here.”

Manatees deaths caused by boat injures are becoming frequent occurrences along the coast.  Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

If anyone sees stranded or injured manatees please contact the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute at 223-5739

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