On the evening of April 19, 2021 the Belize Fisheries Department received reports of an Antillean Manatee (Trichechus manatus manatus) washed ashore near Hopkins. Partners of the Marine Mammal Stranding Network were able to obtain assistance to take initial photographs of the dead manatee. Yesterday the Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Research Institute, with assistance from the Hopkins community, were able to carry out a complete necropsy on the adult female who was 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.
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.
The Fisheries Department reminds boaters to take necessary precautions especially when in No Wake Zones, to use marked channels and to be very cautious when navigating in known manatee areas. The Department is currently working with partners to implement measures to urgently address the threat of boat collisions with manatees.
The public is also 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. The Fisheries Department advises the public to report any incidents involving manatees by calling telephone number 224 4552 or by emailing [email protected]
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