4 dead manatees found near Manatee Lookout

Posted By: Marty

4 dead manatees found near Manatee Lookout - 04/19/18 12:08 PM

Manatee Slaughter?

Yesterday, Jamal Galvez along with a Port Authority Officer and an Oceana representative were patrolling the Belize river when they stumbled upon four dead manatees in the river between Manatee Lookout and the airport. We spoke to Galvez about it and he said in his many years of experience he has never seen so many dead manatees in the same spot.

Jamal Galvez, Sea to Shore Alliance Program Coordinator
"It was very shocking to see that many manatees. I have seen more than one manatees die in the country but in different locations. I have never seen that quantity in one day. It was very shocking and we patrol that river on a weekly basis. It was very surprising to me that it did not come to our attention. Like I mentioned there is a lot of times when these manatees get caught in the mangroves and just not visible to the eyes."

"It is definitely needed for concern, while we were searching and carrying out patrols we actually ran into some gillnets that were set in the river. That is quite alarming because by the fisheries standards and regulations we all know it is illegal to set nets in rivers near river mouths and anywhere close to shorelines especially in a river area that is as heavily traversed as the Belize River, not only to manatees but to many different species of fish. The nets were not deployed but you could see it is probably an operation where they pull the nets in the daytime and put it back out in the evening time."

Sahar Vasquez, reporter
"The gillnets were not found on the manatees though, they were just found in the area?"

Jamal Galvez
"They were not found on the manatees at all. They were found it the same here. I am not alluding that the gill nets may have killed that manatees. I know that boats traverse that area heavily. It could have still been a factor but these animals are too decomposed to say so and I would not want to speculate but the fact that they are in the area when they are not supposed to be in the area definitely proposes a great concern to me."

Three of the manatees were female while one was a male. Their carcasses were in an advanced state of decomposition. Galvez says they will be increasing their patrols and working along with Fisheries to crack down on the use of gillnets in prohibited areas.

Channel 7

Posted By: Marty

Re: 4 dead manatees found near Manatee Lookout - 04/20/18 12:13 PM

4 Dead Manatees Discovered Up the Belize River

On April seventeenth, the team consisting of Jamal Galvez from Sea to Shore Alliance, a Port Officer and OCEANA personnel, was on routine patrol monitoring no wake zones along the Belize City coast and the Belize River. The patrol is conducted through partnership with the MARFund project to ensure that boaters are compliant with the rules when traversing these areas where manatees gather. Along the Belize River, the carcasses of four manatees were discovered. Galvez says that the three adult and a pre-adult mammal were already decomposing.

On the Phone: Jamal Galvez, Sea to Shore Alliance

“We stumbled on a dead manatee and we continued patrol up the river and we found one after the other after the other which resulted into four different dead manatees, which is the most that I’ve seen in any given point in time. Three of the animals were very decomposed; perhaps these animals weren’t seen because sometimes they get hanged up under mangroves or coming down the river, it’s not visible. So there were three that were really decomposed and one that was moderately decomposed. Of note was that we observed net within the area; not alluding that net may have been the cause to these animals demise, but nets present a huge threat to manatees as we’ve known for years. So we have made reports to the Fisheries Department in regards to this and we don’t believe that nets should be sitting in the river. I know that by the regulations, nets aren’t allowed to be set along certain shorelines, close to the river mouth and different regulations which I need for the Fisheries Department to clarify. We know that watercrafts have been the leading cause to manatees in the Belize River and it is something that we have been fighting for a very long time. But it is very disappointing to know that net is also an issue.”

Dead Count for Sea Cow on the Rise

In 2017, forty manatees were killed along the Belize City coastline and the mouth of the Belize River due to watercraft collisions. Statistics show that there are already twenty dead so far this year, which is cause for concern. Galvez says that it is not uncommon for the manatees to travel further up the Belize River seeking fresh water during this time of the year. He says the organization will have to revisit its strategy.

On the Phone: Jamal Galvez, Sea to Shore Alliance

“We have look over our efforts to see where there are holes, where there are gaps and how we can improve. We have focused mainly in the lower Belize River mouth area which is from Manatee Lookout coming out to the sea, which the area that we know is heavily populated with manatees. But from what we’ve been observing, we’ve been seeing a lot of manatees dead coming down from the Boom Bridge area, Bainton Bank. So it is strange that these animals are being killed or the deaths are occurring higher up in the river which our focus hasn’t been. I must add that we haven’t patrolled in that area, but we have extended our patrols to go all the way up to Boom area where these boats traverse. So there will be presence in these areas, and ironically these areas are areas that are covered in vegetation and not visible from any shoreline or from the roadside. So I believe that boaters will take advantage of the opportunity to speed within these areas. And within these areas there are not much presence so you will have issues such as illegal gillnets set in these areas. We continue to campaign, we continue to liaise, we continue to try and form partners with organizations and individuals to see how we can fix this issue.”

Channel 5

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