Manatees in Belize – Conservation
Music; Ambience: manatees
We’re listening to the sounds of an 800 pound manatee searching for its next meal of tender underwater grasses. Scientists off the coast of Belize are following these endangered marine mammals looking for clues which might help save dwindling manatee populations in other parts of the world. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet. Biologist Caryn Self-Sullivan helps lead a manatee study on the barrier islands known as the Drowned Cays.
“Belize is believed to have one of the last strongholds for the Antillean sub-species of the West Indian manatee. Aerial surveys done in that area, and in the rest of Central America, indicate that their population is probably denser than any other population in Central America which gives us the opportunity to study the ecology of these animals in a relatively pristine environment before they’re highly impacted by human development.”
The Drowned Cays are home to a large and healthy population of manatees largely due to the efforts of the government of Belize which has helped the animals since the 1930s. Careful attention is paid to the potential impacts of human development on local waters.
“In my opinion the largest risk that manatees have is degradation of habitat and other impacts that an increasing human population have on the environment. That means increased development, that means increased runoff from the rivers which would mean destruction of the sea grass beds which is their food source.”
Our thanks to the Earthwatch Institute. To hear about our CD, please visit pulseplanet.com. Pulse of the Planet is made possible by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.