On the news last night we told you all about the proposed Cruise Tourism project for Stake Bank Caye and North Drowned Caye which would erect a causeway across the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary which is a manatee reserve.
Well, today the issue of manatee safety or lack of it was brought into sharp focus when a stranded manatee calf was found in the waters off Belize City near Marine Farms on the Western Highway.
Thats far from the proposed site but close enough to raise the issue of manatee safety. Jules Vasquez went to see the injured calf:
Jules Vasquez reporting
This manatee calf is being hand-fed by Jamal Galvez -thats because it was found stranded and listing this morning in a canal off mile 3 on the Western Highway with a wound from a boat propellor. Galvez rescued it and brought it here to the Coastal Zone office
Jamal Galvez - Manatee Research Associate - CZMAI
"It seems stable but from the way the animal was swimming I could tell that it has some sort of internal injury, probably to the lungs."
The manatee is still a nursing calf about 6 to 7 months old, add that to its injuries and this aquatic mammal has big problems
"Without the injury, if he didn't have this injury - it wouldn't survive without the mom and the injury causes more complication to it's chances of survival as it is right now."
"If you had to say percentage wise with all these factors - what are it's hopes of survival?"
"I like to think positively and I'll give it every chance that there is for the chance to survive."
The manatee will now be taken to WILDTRACKS for rehabilitation
"We have injuries that we have dealt with like this before so I feel that the chances are high and we want to keep our fingers cross and hope that there's no serious complications internally. Actually this is the 20th stranded animal for the year and we are just half way through the year so it's not good news for Manatees."
"Is that above average?"
"It's getting there - last year we had 21 the entire year and we're very close to reaching the mark for last year already."
"Doesn't that underscore the fact that really the problem isn't any cause way that Mr. Finstein wants to build, the problems are the boats."
"True - Manatees are getting hit in the open waters. But the only place that they have for shelter is Swallow Caye - the once piece of property, the one water way out of all of them in Belize is there for the Manatees. There's so much problems outside there already, why bring problems into their home - so there's no resting place for these animals, not the open waters nor the place they call home. "
This evening the manatee was taken to the Wildtracks Facility in Sarteneja where it is now in a small pool.
Galvez put out one call for all boaters to beware when traveling through Manatee occupied waters and to report sightings of distressed animals to the Coastal Zone Management Authority And Institute.