Entries in #manatee (10)

Thursday
Aug172017

Manatees And Diving: A Busy Week In Caye  Caulker

This week we welcome four new volunteers to the project. Two of them were here to work on our Manatee Conservation Programme and two came for the Marine Conservation and Diving. This means that we spent a lot of time in the water, and a lot of time on the boat.

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Tuesday
Jun062017

Grass Is Always Bluer On The Other  Tide

I love grass. People give me the weirdest look when I tell them I study seagrass, they love the fact that I study the manatees, but very very rarely will anyone say ‘oh very cool, seagrass must be interesting!’

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Wednesday
May312017

Meeting The Gentle  Giants

I have been in Caye Caulker for 3 months now and I had the opportunity to encounter numerous amazing creatures already. From the quiet nurse sharks, the curious stingrays, the shy turtles or even playful dolphins, every animal has its own behaviour and reacts differently to human presence.

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Monday
May082017

Saving The World... One Manatee At A  Time

Belize is a small beautiful country nuzzled right between Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. The worlds second largest reef runs along the country.

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Tuesday
Jan312017

Time Flies When You're Counting Manatees

When I first arrived I was told by nearly everyone I came across that here on the island life is all about learning to “go slow”, a lifestyle that is highly contagious! Despite this, I feel like I arrived, blinked and suddenly 1 month has past.

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Wednesday
Aug032016

Manatee Conservation In Caye Caulker

I always had a passion for marine mammals, so I chose Frontier’s manatee conservation program as part of my 2nd year overseas trip project for my marine biology course.

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Monday
Jul182016

Manatee Sightings 

A couple of weeks ago the world celebrated shark week, but for us here in Belize we decided it was going to be a week of keeping our fingers crossed for manatee sightings!

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Monday
Jul112016

A Month in Caye Caulker Studying Manatees 

When I first told my dad I would be taking a gap year he said, “okay, but make sure you do something useful with your time,” so since I had recently decided to study zoology at university I decided to volunteer with Frontier as a manatee conservationist for a month.

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Tuesday
May312016

Manatee Sightings

In the 21st year of my life, never having been outside of Europe and always having had a big interest in animals and nature, I decided I wanted to go abroad and volunteer. Doing something to help conserve our planet’s fragile ecosystem.

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Thursday
Mar242016

The Start Of Manatee Season In Belize 

The start of April signals the start of the manatee season in Belize, and our team can’t wait for these fascinating animals to return to our research sites.

Photo Credit - Leah SampsonThe Antillean manatee is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, with an estimated population size of less than 2,500 individuals and a predicted decline of more than 20% within the next 40 years. Belize hosts the largest population of this sub-species in the Caribbean, so conservation efforts to reduce or eliminate the threats faced from habitat loss, hunting and human disturbance are vital.

Frontier’s manatee project investigates the impact of tourism on the manatee population, and having only started this project last year, we are excited to build on our existing data this season. In 2015, our work was predominantly focussed on the impact of tourism on manatee behaviour. Caye Caulker is a popular tourist destination and the number of visitors who participate in ‘swim-with’ tours is increasing every year. These tours are largely unregulated as the area in which manatees are found lies just outside the boundaries of the marine reserve. Our data showed that nearly 70% of all tourist-manatee interactions were initiated by the tourists, and 63% of tourist behaviours were classified as harassments, for example approaching manatees directly or chasing them. This lead to an increase in negative behaviours from the manatees, such as stopping their original, pre-interaction behaviour and moving away from the tourists, when compared with passive observations. This avoidance behaviour can be detrimental as it can cause the manatees to move away from their usual habitats to less suitable areas, which can impact their diet and reproduction success.


This year, we are expanding our research project to look at the habitat types used by the manatees, to study the possible impacts of the avoidance behaviours. We will also be continuing to build our ID database, the behavioural studies and plan to expand our education programme for the local tour guides to reduce the number of negative tourist-manatee interactions. Let’s hope the manatees come back soon so we can get started!    

By Holly Connelly - Project Coordinator

Find out more about the Belize Manatee Conservation project

Check out what volunteers in Belize are up to right now!