And the port Authority will also be monitoring the movement of boats in and around the mouth of the Belize River. That’s to try and cut down on the
alarming number of manatee deaths that have been reported this year. Manatee researcher Jamal Galvez today convened a meeting of relevant stakeholders
from the marine and tourism sectors to try and find a way to save the manatees, or, in the worst case, cause less of them to die by boat propeller. We
were there to find out about the meeting’s outcome:…
Jamal Galvez – Program Coordinator, Belize Coastal Zone Management
"The coastal zone management authority called this meeting to get the key holders to come to the table. With the increase in manatee deaths, it seems
like i'm singing this over and over. We've had basically 17 manatee deaths, 17 manatees died this year and we're just 3 months into the year."
"What do you think is driving the steady increases in manatee deaths?"
"The Belize river mouth is a key area for manatees. They do need fresh water to survive just like we need air to survive. So at any point in time each
manatee that live within this area would go to the Belize river mouth to get fresh water. It's a heavily traffic area mainly for tourism."
Shola Babb - Compliance Officer - Quality Assurance, BTB
"Manatee tours are one of the packages that the cruise ship offers and it's very important for us to make sure this is a sustainable product that we
can offer to the cruise ship."
Michael Jenkins - Chief Safety & Security Officer, Belize Port Authority
"The port authority has realise and recognise that they're larger vessels, they're more vessels that are utilising the river mouth or river ways.
Intense research says manatees congregate at the river mouth. So to help to ease boat vessels and manatees living in the area we're putting some buoys
markers, so that vessels can transit within that marker and within time the manatees can hopefully recognise that this is a normal pathway and they
would keep out."
"The buoys are very key. Currently the channel isn't marked so boaters are using all different paths and the manatees are confused where the boats are
coming from. Once the channel is clearly marked and the boaters stay on the channel, eventually the manatees are going to realise this is the boat
channel - let me stand back. We seen it work in Florida and other parts of the world, so we assume it's going to work here as well."
"So their mammalian brain is able to adjust their behaviour, modify their behaviour based on what they perceive?"
"The manatees aren't as smart at dolphins but they are smart as well. The do hear the boat coming, they can't tell the direction where it's coming
from. Under water they are unable to tell direction so that's why they get hit by boats. Just constant boat travel on this northern part will
eventually realise it is a boat traffic area and hopefully that's before we kill out all the manatees in the Belize river mouth."
2014 registered an abnormally high number of manatee kills by boats.