Press Release – On August 15, a large manatee was reported in a canal at Vista del Mar, described as being entangled in a net. The Belize Marine Mammal Stranding Network response team, led by Jamal Galves and Nicole Auil Gomez, located the animal and determined that the long white line across the manatee’s back was not a net, but a large boat engine wound.
The manatee was monitored for a week. The mammal was rescued by the team on August 24th as she appeared thin and the canal’s vegetation deemed unsuitable. Coastal Zone Management Authority & Institute staff and many volunteers, including BATSUB soldiers, successfully lifted the 10-foot female using Sea to Shore Alliance’s specialized capture boat and gear. She was examined by Dr. Jane Crawford of Animal Medical Centre who determined it had a lung infection likely caused from a possible fractured rib – a result of the boat strike.
The Belize Coast Guard generously provided a truck and transported the manatee to the Manatee Rehabilitation Centre in Sarteneja, Corozal. There it will receive around-the-clock care from Wildtracks and many volunteers.
A second manatee was unintentionally caught with the injured female, but fortunately so as it had a serious fishing line entanglement in its flipper, which could have led to eventual amputation. The line was removed in over an hour, and she was returned to the wild and expected to heal naturally.
The Rehab Center also provides care to “Duke”, the juvenile male rescued in Belize City in January. A third manatee, “Twiggy” rescued three years ago, is being prepared for release into the wild. Donations are needed to help feed and care for the two manatees in rehabilitation.
Boaters, please watch for manatees in shallow areas – use slow speed in and around the Belize River. Please continue to report cases of injured, orphaned or dead manatees to 223-5739 / 223-0719.