witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve

Posted By: concerned guide

witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/04/06 07:09 AM

On Tues 2nd August: (and probably not the only time)

Five tour boats, guides and tourists harassing a manatee. The manatee was chased around and harassed by the guides and snorkelers. There were between 60 to 70 people in the water. The guide boats were right on top of the manatee area, and were from three well known Front Street operators.

The manatees come to the Northern Channel every year at breeding time. Allowing and encouraging tourists to chase these animals frightens them and will probably lead to a decline in their numbers. They are an endangered species and are protected in Belize. We are so lucky that they come to our island, and that we are able to get into the water with them at this location. Other manatee areas in Belize are more tightly patrolled, motors are not used and no one is allowed in the water with them. Perhaps it is time to do the same at the CC Marine Reserve?

Manatees are curious and intelligent animals and if you give them the time and space, they are likely to approach you. A manatee that does not do this is tired, probably frightened and has been chased by humans before. They have more right to be there than we do.

Tourists, please respect that you are a guest in the home of these animals. You are privileged to be able to see them in their natural environment, something that from many humans behaviour, is likely to not happen for much longer.

Guides, you should know better!
Posted By: Auxillou Beach Suites

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/04/06 03:15 PM

Pardon my ignorance, but where is the Northern Channel?
Posted By: Caye Connect

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/04/06 07:55 PM

Northern channel is the break in the reef that lies just east of the northern tip of N. Caye Caulker. It essentially feeds right into the marine reserve. I imagine the reserve boundaries were designed this way because of the migratory nature of the sea life.

The report about the tours harrassing the Manatee is surprising. I was out swimming off a private boat the other day and was charged $10/head by the reserve cops. If they aren't stopping the harassment of Manantees, then what is the $10 for?
Posted By: Cooper

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/04/06 10:49 PM

The snorkle boats will refer to this area as coral gardens, not to be confused with the coral gardens in front of Caye Caulker. If you go directly out from the north tip of Caye Caulker to the reef, their is a deep channel. I have seen the Manatee many times, had one swim right up to my face once, This spot is not patrolled and not a part of the marine reserve. That seems crazy in its self. With all the money that is collected in park fees why isnt this area a part of the park, and why isnt it patrolled? The manatee are their every year for several months.
Posted By: Carlos Miller

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/05/06 04:12 AM

(aka 'concerned guide')

Oops should have been 'North Channel', and the place is correctly identified by above posters.

It's a great idea to talk about patrolling the area, but CC Marine Reserve does already extend upto the North Channel, and it is broken up into 4 areas for different usage. Some areas are set aside specifically for commercial use, ie fishing, parts only for tourism, and others for scientific research. The North Channel is not normally patrolled because it is in the commercial area, and funds only allow patrolling of the tourist area.

Taking tourists outside the designated tourist area of the Reserve should put resonsibility on the Tour Guides, and they should be teaching their customers respect for the special aquatic life, and not allowing them to harass it, especially such a unique and endangered species.

[This message has been edited by Carlos Miller (edited 08-05-2006).]
Posted By: luvbubbles

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/05/06 04:22 AM

Ok people. I have seen with my own eyes, people (tourists) and guides alike, taking advantage of marine life and areas all along the reef and for that matter in other countries. The responsibility of how the manatee or any other animal or marine life is treated falls on the shoulders of the GUIDE (him or herself). If you do not take the time to educate the tourist you are guiding, then you should just stay at home. It comes down to having total respect for the environment in which we live and how we make our incomes and basically survive. There is no need for patrolling the Coral Gardens if all guides that would like to share this special area during these few months, would act responsibly. That includes knowing how to anchor, approach the area, lead/guide and instruct the tourist on the importance of maintaining this area and helping to preserve it by example. All of this would help continue the return of the healthy manatee population year after year. In return the benefit would be to all of us, guide or non-guide. This is a beautiful gift Belize has, take the responsiblity seriously and respectfully so that everyone learns from the experience.
Posted By: Cooper

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/06/06 06:38 PM

You just have to wonder why depending on tour guides to be responsible never works in the long run. Dont get all defensive here. So far from what I see the Caye Caulker guides are great, doing a wonderful job, but Belize is just a youngster in the world of tourism. Hawaii, Australia, and many other fragile destinations have been ruined by the exploitation of tourist and guides. One would hope that we are all more aware now of how fragile nature is. That the world as a whole will protect these treasures. Many guides go out to the reef,from many places. some are only interested in the money, thankfully most are truly concerned with protecting their countries resources, but I would say that a bit more should be done than depending on the fact that the guides will all be responsible and educate folks, Shoulda ,woulda, coulda, and opps another dead reef!
Posted By: iamsaz

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/10/06 08:38 PM

I, too, am concerned about this kind of behavior regarding the manatee. I am only a tourist, but I agree that this issue should be addressed asap. Cooper, you are correct in saying that tourism in Belize is still a fairly new concept. Enacting laws now would prevent future abuse of this natural habitat for all sea life. Many people, including myself, travel there to see just that. If it's ruined it could have an untold affect on tourism in the long run.

On a side note, when I visited last April I scheduled a tour with Coral Breeze/Hammerhead and Heni and Mario did a fantastic job of educating everyone about the marine life and natural habitat while stressing emphatically that the coral should not be touched. I sincerely hope that Coral Breeze/Hammerhead Water Sports was not one of those who was harassing the manatee that the OP spoke about. That just doesn't seem like their style.
Posted By: Carlos Miller

Re: witnessed yesterday at CC Marine Reserve - 08/12/06 05:31 AM

It's getting worse, not better. Today there were 6 or 7 boats anchored right over the manatees, with over 100 people in the water. The local boats have now been joined by boats from San Pedro, and Belize City. Four of the local operators, and three from elsewhere have now been witnessed not respecting these special animals. In some cases the boats have chased the manatees through the water.

I am now documenting everything I witness, and would urge others to do the same. If you are in the vicinity, please note any boats and guides that you see chasing the manatees. Some guides and boats may be there showing respect, so notice their behaviour. Note the time and date too. We need to make this a protected reserve, and get other people involved.

It has to stop here!!!
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