Aerial manatee count signals increased population
Auil Gomez who is the National Consultant for the Coastal Zone Management Institute said that they recently conducted a flyover manatee count. That particular exercise was not conducted for six years. However, the results of the national aerial surveys had positive results.
Nicole Auil Gomez, National Consultant, CZMAI
“The last time this was done was in 2007. What this survey helps us to do is determine the distribution patterns and the relative abundance of manatees throughout the country. Prior to this survey the highest count for Belize was three hundred and thirty-two animals that was counted in 2002. And this survey, we got a very high number; five hundred and seven animals for the country and that is pretty significant. Belize still has the largest number of the West Indian or Antillean manatee in the world and this continues to show that. What the count does is give us a minimal number because for every animal seen, there are several that we don’t see. We also had a high proportion of calves—relatively high at ten percent. And normally about seven percent is a good indication of reproductive success of the species. So we were very happy with the results in this year’s survey.”
“And this is all considering that you still have some of these mammals being killed by boating accidents?
Nicole Auil Gomez
“Yes we do certainly still have some of the animals being killed. We know that there are high areas of threat such as the Belize City area in particular around Belize River mouth where there are a lot of boats that utilize that area—there are also a lot of manatees that use that area. Keep in mind that with this number, it is still an endangered species. Keep in mind that we probably in Belize, the estimate is about a thousand. It’s an estimate; it is not a scientifically robust estimate because it is very to do abundance estimates with marine mammals that you cannot se well and you cannot see well because they are a lot in brown water—in muddy waters and in river waters. So you miss a lot of animals. They come up to breathe for very short periods of time and they stay under water for very long time. They are still an endangered species. In the region, Belize has the largest number, but if we only have maybe a thousand to two thousand, it is still a low number for a population.”Email This Story