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Wednesday
Jan102018

Manatees came back for  Christmas!

As we were getting ready to celebrate Christmas here in Belize, we still continued our usual scientific activities with our volunteers. One of them consists in looking for manatees from the boat for our manatee database. During the colder months, this can be very frustrating for volunteers as we would spend hours looking for manatees with no sightings because it isn’t manatee season.

 

Since March, when we started looking for the spots where manatees are more likely to be, we picked 3 main areas where we have been conducting our surveys. 2 of those areas are on the reef and this is where manatees spend their time during the warmer months. We have been spotting manatees in those areas every week from May to October. But we also selected a third area, based on advices from local fishermen, as they told us they would spot manatees all year long there ! This third area is very close to the populated island, sheltered from the wind and currents and close to the mangroves.

Since October, we spent time surveying this area with no luck, but this is still an important thing to do, to make sure we do not miss any manatees. And this week, it finally paid off! As we were drifting slowly on our boat looking at the water, we spotted 3 manatee noses at the surface ! This is proof that manatees do not completely leave our island during the colder months, and that they can still be around, in areas where they get more protection from the weather. Although, this is a bit worrying as this area is intensively used by boats and they do not slow down and could hit the manatees. Most people do not know that manatees are still around and they wouldn’t pay attention while driving.

Now that we found this group of manatees, we will continue surveying the area to collect more data. And if we notice this group of manatees is staying here, we will try to inform the local population to make sure they are careful while driving boats around!

By Doryan Givel - Belize Project Coordinator

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