Masters student and TIDE intern, Transi Gonzalez Medina, presented the results of her 6-month baseline study on manatees present in Port Honduras Marine Reserve (PHMR) and Payne’s Creek National Park (PNCP) today.
The results of the manatee study reveals the first hard evidence that the populations of endangered West Indian Manatees in PHMR and PNCP exist in healthy populations! Manatees decreased in the area previously due to hunting and the use of gill nets and one of the reasons PHMR was set up was to protect manatees; It is why the beautiful animal features on our logo!
The study analysed the group size, age range, location and behaviour of manatees using boat surveys to collect data. The highlights of Transi's research found that PHMR and PCNP maintain a healthy manatee population. Out of the 121 manatee sightings, around 10% seen were calves, which indicates a healthy reproductive population. Manatees were most frequently found feeding on sea grass beds in PCNP and Deep River, whereas those sighted around cayes tended to be resting.
However, coastal areas in PHMR and PCNP are under threat from habitat loss and degradation of the manatee food source, sea grass, though development along the coast. Manatees are also killed and injured by boat collisions.
TIDE’s immediate response to the research will be to install more wake free zones in areas of high manatee presence. It is hoped satellite tagging devices will be attached to individuals in the future to record their movements. Also, research on sea grass beds in the area could help to protect their habitat.
TIDE wants to thank everyone for their hard work and dedication throughout the manatee project. We are so happy to finally understand more about manatee populations in the reserve. It has been a group effort; fishermen have collaborated and offered their local knowledge; TIDE’s rangers have helped carry out boat surveys; TIDE’s Marine Manager, Seleem Chan, Terrestrial Manager, Mario Muschamp, Assistant Terrestrial Manager and Science Director, James Foley, have coordinated the research and Transi has dedicated 6 months to the study. It is hoped this in-depth research will be continued on a larger scale in the future as it has the ability to help to reduce the negative impacts on manatees.
Transi - Manatee Lady