April 2nd, 2013 3:46 pm marks the second occurrence for the year (See first article) when the TIDE team responded to information from a community fisher about a dead manatee.
Upon arrival it was observed that no limbs were attached to the carcass. It seemed to have been removed either by decomposition or river animals. The manatee was floating belly up, no scars, moderately decomposed, filled with maggots and was being fed upon by critters. Based from the level of decomposition the team estimated that the manatee was dead for approximately 10-15 days, placing the time of death at about a day or two after the death of the first manatee reported on March 18th, 2013 in Monkey River some two weeks ago.
The team geared up to enter the water and take a closer look at the 500 lbs. 9’10” male manatee carcass hoping to find the cause of death on its back. Hence, the carcass was flipped and an inspection for the cause of death began.
The degree to which the body was decomposed made it difficult to notice any lacerations, punctures, boat strike or anything really. However a large portion of flesh was removed from the left side of the lower back closer to the tail. The bones in the lower back were visible and no fracture was observed with the naked eye. A tissue sample was also taken from the tail for further analysis.
It’s sad to have these magnificent creatures being wiped out. Let’s do our part to protect them for now and for future generations! If you are a witness of a hurt or dead manatee, sea turtle please contact the authorities (TIDE, Fisheries Department) right away. One phone call can help in the protection of these endangered species.
The West Indian manatee is an endangered species and is protected by law. This species is protected in Belize under the Wildlife Protection Act, No.4 of 1981. This Act states, no person shall hunt, meaning “to kill, molest by any methods and includes attempting to kill, take or molest by any method” any manatee. Neither is anyone allowed to have in his/her position a manatee or part/s of this species. Anyone who hunts a manatee will be fined $500.00 on a first offence, and $1000.00 and/or imprisonment for 6 months, for previously convicted wildlife offenders. Jurisdiction is under the Forest Department, Ministry of Natural Resources.