Manatee Boat Strikes in Belize

Manatee Boat Strikes in Belize

The endangered Antillean manatee faces a growing threat from boat strikes in Belize, according to a new study. The study, published in Endangered Species Research, used 25 years of data to quantify the impacts of increasing boat traffic on the manatee population.

The study found that boat strikes have become the leading cause of manatee death in Belize, accounting for 40% of all manatee deaths between 1990 and 2015. The number of boat strikes has increased in recent years, as Belize has seen a surge in tourism.

Manatees are slow-moving and gentle creatures, and they are often difficult to see in the water. This makes them especially vulnerable to boat strikes. When a manatee is struck by a boat, it can suffer serious injuries or even death.

The study found that the majority of boat strikes in Belize occur in shallow water near mangroves and seagrass beds. These are important habitats for manatees, and they are also popular areas for boaters.

The study’s authors recommend a number of measures to reduce the risk of boat strikes in Belize. These include:

  • Increasing awareness of manatee safety among boaters
  • Designating manatee-safe zones in areas where boat traffic is high
  • Installing boat speed limiters in areas where manatees are present

The study’s authors also call for more research on the impacts of boat strikes on manatees. This research could help to develop more effective strategies to protect these endangered creatures.

What You Can Do to Help

If you are planning to boat in Belize, there are a few things you can do to help protect manatees:

  • Be aware of your surroundings and look for manatees in the water.
  • Slow down and be extra careful in areas where manatees are present.
  • Use a boat speed limiter if available.
  • Report any boat strikes to the authorities.

By taking these simple steps, you can help to ensure the safety of manatees in Belize.

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