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Speeding boat kills pregnant manatee in southern Belize

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Posted: Wednesday, April 21, 2021. 2:04 pm CST.

By Benjamin Flowers: The Belize Fisheries Department (BFD) is reporting that a speeding boat in southern Belize has killed a pregnant Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus), a species that is already in danger of going extinct.

The BFD said that the dead manatee washed up ashore near Hopkins on the evening of Monday, April 19, and members of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network were able to obtain assistance to take initial photographs of it. Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Research Institute, with assistance from the Hopkins community, carried out a complete necropsy on the manatee and found it to be an adult female pregnant with a fully developed fetus.

“The findings of the necropsy were consistent with blunt force trauma due to watercraft impact therefore the cause of death was ruled as a watercraft-related incident,” the BFD said. “This is a significant loss as manatees have low reproductive rates, breeding females give birth to on average one calf every two to five years. The gestation period is about a year. Intervals between births range from two to five years.”

Boaters are reminded to exercise caution, especially when in No Wake Zones, to use marked channels, and decrease their speed when in areas known to be trafficked by manatees. The BFD said that it is currently working with  currently working with partners to implement measures to urgently address the threat of boat collisions with manatees.

The department reminded that the Antillean manatee is a critically endangered species and is fully protected under Section 88 of the Fisheries Resources Act No. 7 of 2020. Those with knowledge of any incidents involving manatees are urged to call the BFD at 224-4552 or send an email to fisheries_department@fisheries.gov.bz

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