On Monday evening, a dead manatee washed ashore near Hopkins Village, Stann Creek. Residents there notice the dead Antillean Manatee floating near the pier and the Belize Fisheries Department was quickly notified of the matter. On Tuesday, representatives of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Research Institute visited the scene where they confirmed that the manatee was pregnant with a fully development male fetus. Here again is Hipolito Novelo with the story.
This dead Antillean Manatee washed ashore near Hopkins Village on Monday. Pictures of the dead sea-cow show the adult female floating by the pier. Injuries were clearly visible. Jamal Galvez and his team at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Research Institute responded to the scene.
Jamal Galvez, Programme Coordinator, Clear Water Marine Research Institute: “We also observed numerous lacerations that is similar to that of water craft collision in the head and shoulder area.”
A necropsy was later conducted to determine the cause of death. It is believe that the manatee died as a result of injuries she sustained from boat propellers.
Jamal Galvez, Programme Coordinator, Clear Water Marine Research Institute: “The assessment also yielded that there were significant blood clots present within the abdominal cavity which is very closely related to trauma incidents. There were significant impact within the upper portion of the manatee specifically around the chest, heart, head area where there was significant bruising along ribs and numerous dislodged ribs as well in the upper part of the manatee.”
The necropsy also confirmed Galvez’s suspicions. The manatee was pregnant with a fully developed male fetus.
Jamal Galvez, Programme Coordinator, Clear Water Marine Research Institute: “Upon entering the abdominal cavity of the large female that there was a fully developed fetus inside the body of the mother and I immediately decided to administer chest compressions despite that it had been a long time since it had died – it doesn’t hurt to try but that effort was also fruitless so the mother is dead and the male calf was also claimed dead as well.”
There was an attempt to save the calf’s life but the mother had been dead far too long and the baby manatee had died from oxygen deprivation. With manatee numbers dwindling, Galvez says the impact of this double manatee death is significant.
Jamal Galvez, Programme Coordinator, Clear Water Marine Research Institute: “I cannot over emphasize how significant it is not just for the calf but for the adult female as well. She’s a reproducing female so there is definitely concern in regards to we’re losing another reproducing female and a calf that hadn’t even gotten the chance to make it to become a number in the population we are already seeing dwindling. We continue to emphasize the need for us to save every individual that we can. These issues are as a result of human activities, these are things that we can control.”
Would you say that it’s more of a human error, a genuine mistake rather than willful neglect ?
Jamal Galvez, Programme Coordinator, Clear Water Marine Research Institute: “I would like to think so and I’d hope so because if that’s not the case we will be lost in the sense that to want to think that there are individuals out there that would intentionally cause harm to these harmless species is unthinkable.”
And with that, Galvez is asking boat operators to be cautious while traversing shallow waters.
Jamal Galvez, Programme Coordinator, Clear Water Marine Research Institute: “We also encourage boaters to wear polarized sunglasses, avoid shallow water ways especially speeding in shallow water ways these are areas we know manatees are hanging out to feed. Adhere to manatee no wake zones and known manatee hotspots, be on the lookout. It’s advisable to have a look out person it’s easier for a boat to divert from a manatee than for a manatee to avoid boaters and we continue to beg them to please report these incidents. Numerous incidents go unreported and we cannot do anything unless you report there’s not a penalty, it’s not a crime to hit a manatee accidentally accidents do happen so we encourage people to report these incidents and to just be courteous and be conscious of your surroundings.”