Spotlight on Belize's Gentle Sea Cows
The skeleton of a manatee's flipper is uncannily akin to that of the human hand. Their flippers are super important as they are used for swimming, walking on the bottom, and picking things up! Down by their tail along the spine, there is a vestige of a pelvic girdle. So, at one time manatees were land animals that migrated to the water. Over 45 million years, they lost their ability to use their feet!
These warm-blooded mammals "could love you to death". They process information and are blessed with logical thinking. They are not aggressive and are super friendly. Manatees have good eyesight and hearing under water, but are vulnerable to injuries sustained by boats and propellers. Manatees hear at a higher frequency than the lower frequency emitted by boat motors. Sadly, recreational and commercial vessels are the worst threat to this endangered species. Their skin is very thin and delicate and a cut is exceedingly painful to them.
If you are boating in Belize coastal waters, canals, bays and river estuaries, please observe the posted speed zone signs in manatee areas. Also, keep your eyes peeled for the tell-tale signs of manatees in the water including "the manatee footprint". These are swirls created in the water by the manatee when they submerge and push water up. If you spot a manatee, observe from a distance. Manatees in Belize are protected under the Wildlife Protection Act of 1981and hefty fines/imprisonment exist for anyone who molests or hunts manatees.