Manatees are one of the “most iconic and threatened animals in the world’s oceans” and researchers in Belize have come together with strengthened efforts to protect them. Flying overseas in a small plane, researchers have seen a record 507 manatees this year!
“Abundant in Belize are the Antillean Manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus), sub-species of the West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus), which is more numerous in Belize than anywhere else in the world. These manatees are large, gentle mammals that reside in estuaries; slow, shallow rivers; canals; coastal areas; and saltwater bays. They surface for air every 3-5 minutes but can remain underwater for up to 20 minutes. They are herbivores, eating only plants and consuming 10-15% of their body weight daily. The average adult manatee weighs 1000-1500 pounds and grows to 10 feet in length. Manatees range in color from gray to brown and have a paddle-shaped tail and two flippers that they use to propel their bodies through water and to scoop up their food.”
(Protected Areas Conservation Trust)
Ian Anderson of Caves Branch Jungle Lodge says, “One of the islands in the area of snorkeling has much mangrove, it is a nursery area for Manatees. They are seen from time to time.”
“Antillean manatees, also called Caribbean manatees, are found throughout coastal areas of the Wider Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico. They are one of two subspecies of the West Indian Manatee (the other is the Florida manatee, T. m. latirostris). Threats to Antillean manatees include habitat degradation, boat strikes, accidental capture in fishing gear, pollution, and hunting.” Follow the link for an interesting story and to learn more about the Manatees seen in Belize.