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Apr 22, 2008

Manatee makes Earth Day visit to Southern Foreshore

Story PictureToday is observed in the United States of America and other nearby countries—including Belize—as Earth Day. And that’s about the only explanation we can find for the visit this morning of a very large manatee to the waters in front of the Bellevue Hotel on the Southern Foreshore. While we occasionally find injured manatees entering the shallows to nurse their wounds, this one did not appear to be in any particular distress. It remained in one place for around thirty minutes, pausing only to raise its nose for air or flex its powerful tail. According to manatee researcher Nicole Auil, although Belize boasts the region’s healthiest population of these fascinating mammals, they remain vulnerable to numerous threats.

Nicole Auil, Manatee Researcher
“it’s a very large animal. Usually when I see them in the water they look a little smaller than they actually are and this one looks very big. It’s very strange. It’s like pacing like an animal in a cage almost.”

Stewart Krohn
“Maybe paying us a visit for Earth Day?”

Nicole Auil
“Maybe paying us a visit for Earth Day indeed. It could be maybe something happened to it and it’s stressed, although it’s moving a little bit too much. Usually if you see an animal that was hit by a boat or so, it wouldn’t be moving as much. It would be in one place just surfacing to breathe and submerging.”

Stewart Krohn
“Nicole, what is the general health of Belize’s manatee population?”

Nicole Auil
“Well, regionally, we are the country that has the best promise. We have the largest number of animals. We probably have over a thousand animals but we’ve been seeing a lot of threats of course with—lately the boats now have three, two hundred horse power engines. They’re going faster, there are a lot more traffic, there’s a lot more tourism related traffic especially in the Belize City area.”

Boaters in coastal areas where manatees congregate are asked to slow down and be on the lookout. Auil could not be sure whether the animal was a female—perhaps pregnant—or a male—possibly looking for a mate.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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