Belize has the highest known density of Antillean manatees, a subspecies of the West Indian manatee, in the world. Unfortunately, because of rapidly increasing coastal development, human related manatee deaths are rising quickly. Poaching, once the major threat to manatees in Belize, has been replaced by boat kills and destruction of habitat as the major concerns for the survival of the species. Sea to Shore Alliance scientists and collaborators provide the data, expertise and scientific exchange that are used by the Belize government to establish sanctuaries, speed zones, and other actions that help ensure the survival of manatees in this remarkable country.
In search for help to let the people know of this endangered gentle manatee of our waters and the importance it is to our captivating ecosystem on us as Belizean a corporate partnership for manatee conservation was formed in July of 2012. This partnership is with standout Bowen and Bowen Limited, through Crystal Water. Their efforts would be mainly base on awareness efforts and marketing this animal with the intention to raise funds for the conservation efforts.
Since July 2012 together we have made many appearance, reached hundreds of people and the work continues. We made an appearance on “Open Your Eyes” morning show discussing the collaboration and the efforts, while highlighting the increase in manatee deaths as well as how we all can help. We have designed and installed new manatee “No Wake” signs in the Belize River area, an area largely used by manatees as well as high boat traffic. Together we have created a manatee logo “Protect our manatees Belize” that we hope to become known not only in Belize but beyond our borders. We have created one of the very first manatee awareness commercial in Belize highlighting manatees and the danger they face. From the collaboration awareness efforts have been made at many events in country (World water day, La Ruta Maya (river clean up) and many other summer camps and schools). Since the partnership we were also able to put together one of the biggest manatee tour-guide workshop up to today. We had just over ninety participants in the two day certificate course.
We have managed to have done a handful so far, but the work has just started. There is much more work left to be done, many more people left to be reached and manatees left to be saved.