Today an adult Antillean manatee was rescued off the Burdon Canal. It had been badly cut by a boat propeller and a team has been trying to rescue it from Sunday but couldn't - until this afternoon. We found with Manatee researcher Jamal Galvez and his team off the Western highway and they told me how challenging it was to rescue this one.
Courtney Weatherburne reporting
A 12 foot skiff, a 300 foot long and 30 foot deep net and a blue pickup truck: all the equipment needed to barricade this adult male manatee.
These prominent white slashes on his back that can be seen from beneath the murky canal water, are his scars.
And this team has been trying to rescue this animal since Sunday after residents from the Belama area alerted them to the injured manatee.
Jamal Galvez, Program Coordinator, Belize Coastal Zone Management
"We try capture it on Sunday and we didn't and he came in here yesterday. We tried yesterday all day and this animal is quite a tricky guy. Despite injured, he is quite a tricky guy, so we came back today because we see this animal is in need of assistance and it wouldn't have been possible without a lot of people. I mean Sea Sports was offering a boat, Action Belize and all these volunteers out here from OCEANA."
But finally after about 2 days of standing and wading in muddy waters and tugging on the this heavy net
The manatee was rescued this afternoon. 10 people had to drag him out of the canal on this blue stretcher.
While all this seems like a grueling task, it wasn't really - because the manatee didn't put up much of a fight.
"I have situations longer than that - some smaller guys that are much sneakier. The environment sometimes plays a role, the water is really deep and the issue with the net, it's very difficult to move that net. We need individuals to assist us. As you see he didn't fight with us that much because he had gotten some huge boat strikes, so he is ailing right now, so he may not be one hundred percent and from what I saw on his stomach lobes, there is the flaps that shows dehydration and hunger. Maybe he hasn't eaten at all. Now, we are going to assess the animal to see what sort of damages that he have. We are going to try and transport him Wildtracks rehabilitation center in Sarteneja and there we are going to see how he does in rehab and just to try and ease the burden of him swimming in deeper waters and looking for food. When animals are injured like this, they tend to not want to eat. So, maybe force feed him some milk, to make sure he has something in his stomach and he is able to survive and be able to heal."
But to avoid harming these manatees, Galvez says that boaters need to be more vigilant.
"For boaters specifically, please be on the lookout for Manatees. That's a horrible boat scar and the animal is going to live with that scar on his back for the rest of his life and he is quite injured. You could see clearly those wounds and he may have internal problem as well. So, we ask boaters to be cautious when they are travelling water ways where Manatees hang out."
Right now the Manatee, called Benny is at a Rehabilitation center in Sarteneja where tests and checkups are being done on him. This is the 28th manatee rescued so far this year. Last year the team rescued 34 manatees in total. The biggest manatee, Rosie was rescued 2 years ago. She was 10ft 3 inches.