Did you know that Belize has the most number of this endangered species in the world? That’s right; studies have proven that Belize has the most number of Manatees! Researchers in Belize have strengthened efforts to protect one of the most iconic and threatened animals in the world’s oceans.
To get a better handle on the number and locations of endangered Antillean manatees, Belize’s leading marine research organization and conservation groups took to the skies to scan the crystalline waters of Belize for the rotund marine mammals. From their bird’s-eye view aboard small planes, researchers have been able to spot a record 507 manatees this year, confirming Belize’s status as the world’s most important country for this endangered subspecies.
A team from the Oceanic Society, led by Dr. Holly Edwards, partnered with LightHawk to conduct aerial surveys of the remote Turneffe Atoll, which were then combined with surveys of the mainland coast led by Nicole Auil Gomez of Belize’s Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute and LightHawk to arrive at the total.
The surveys help scientists learn the manatees’ travel patterns and habitat use in Belize, which can be used to guide boat traffic routes to reduce collisions with manatees, as well as other management issues.
Belize has the greatest number of Antillean manatees in the world, which are found both in coastal areas and around the remote Turneffe Atoll – the largest coral atoll in the western hemisphere – located 25 miles off the Belizean mainland. Manatees are typically associated with freshwater sources like springs and manmade effluence, but no such source is yet known for Turneffe, making their presence there somewhat of a mystery. (Source – Huffington Post, Click here for entire aritcle)