Forty manatees were killed in 2017. It proved to be a dangerous and deadly year for the gentle mammals. Belize has one of the healthiest populations of the West Indian Manatee, but the specie continues to be under threat, particularly from boaters. And just two days into the New Year, one manatee has already been killed and another is badly injured and out roaming the waters. We spoke with the Jamal Galvez who tells us that manatee killed is a big animal that was badly cut by boat propellers – Galvez says that it is the worst injuries he has seen on a manatee killed by boat in Belize. They buried the dead manatee today and are now looking for the injured mammal – he fears that one may die from its injuries if it is not rescued soon enough.
Jamal Galvez, Program Coordinator & Research Biologist, Sea to Shore Alliance
“The New Year hasn’t started off good in terms of manatees and our efforts. We just did a workshop before the year ended and our efforts continue through-out the year. Last year we had forty dead manatees, which is a very high number. If we want to continue stress that Belize has the highest population of manatees of this species in the world, then we have to make sure that we preserve and conserve it. Yesterday, we got a call about an injured manatee which got hit by a boat. We came out to look for it and we couldn’t find the animal. We came out to look for it today again and we discovered another manatee that died maybe a day or two ago, with massive boat strike – maybe from like a dive boat or something of that magnitude. The animal had been there in the Universal Heights area and we still continue looking for this other animal. But this isn’t a good start for the manatees to start the year this way.”
“So, talk to us about these manatees; the dead one is a nine feet male; what’s the other injured one?”
“The other one, it looks from the video, that is probably a sub adult; may be an animal around four to five years old, not as big as this animal. But you could have seen the lacerations from the boat strike. The animal probably have pneumothorax, for example, the animal may have gotten damages to organs and rib. It wasn’t floating like a normal manatee would be floating. That animal is critically in need of assistance and we are asking the public if you are in the buttonwood bay area; dolphin park area; if you see a manatee acting strange, please call us directly, so that we can respond and try help the animal. The cause of death was obvious – the animal back was basically ripped open and you could see the propeller strikes, so a thorough necropsy wasn’t necessary because the evidence was right there to have caused the animal to have died but from observation we saw many broken ribs. The skin was pierced all the way to the bones. It was a really, really bad hit. I haven’t seen one in Belize like that ever. It was a really bad hit, so whoever hit that animal is aware they hit an animal. We ask if people to continue report it. Perhaps that animal was beyond save, but sometimes you hit these animals and we can come out and rescue them if you report it.”
Galvez ask boaters to be vigilant at the Belize river mouth area and the Haulover Creek – two spots where manatees frequent.