By Benjamin Flowera
A female manatee is dead this week after it was drowned in the Belize River by a group of male manatees trying to mate with it.
Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute concluded that the cow (female manatee) had drowned, after an autopsy revealed 45 ml of water in its lungs.
Jamal Galves, manatee research expert with the CZMAI, underscored that the occurrence is normal, because the manatees are currently in mating season.
Galves explained that during mating season manatees form mating herds, where anywhere between 12-20 male manatees will follow a female who is in heat.
“Sometimes when all the bulls (male manatees) are pushing to try and mate with the female, they keep her from coming up for air and drown her,” Galves told The Reporter on Wednesday.
He added that the incident is a clear reminder that manatees already have to battle deaths from natural causes, which makes it even more critical for humans not to cause any deaths.
He appealed to boaters to exercise extreme caution when travelling through the mouth of the Belize River, which is a common place to find manatees.
The CZMAI, the Belize Port Authority and the Belize Tourism Board are scheduled to meet next week to discuss what extra precautions can be taken over next few weeks to ensure that no manatees are injured by boats during mating season.
The institute is also concerned about poaching, because manatees frequently venture into shallow waters during mating season. They are also more susceptible to being captured, because they tend to ignore human presence during this time.
According to the CZMAI, the Antillean Manatee is an endangered species, with less than 1000 left in the world.
Galves said that they began counting total number of remaining Antillean Manatees in April; however, the total figure has not been determined yet.