The West Indian Manatee (Trichechus manatus) is a marine mammal that lives in the coastal waters and around the offshore reefs of Belize. Manatees have large gray bodies covered with algae or barnacles. They are herbivores that consume marine vegetation such as sea grass and surface regularly to breathe. They reside in sea grass beds and in mangroves that provide them with shelter. The West Indian Manatee is listed as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species, and may eventually be listed as endangered. They are at a huge risk of decline due to coastal development and other changes to the environment (Auil). Manatees are facing countless risks and deaths as the human population increases in varying locations. According to…show more content… In Belize, mangroves estimate up to 3.4% of the land area, about 296 square miles (CITE). Mangroves serve important ecological service such as erosion control, filter, and clean, while also providing shelter to many marine organisms like lemon sharks, invertebrates, shrimp, and manatees. There is a lot of biodiversity in mangroves and due to the clearance for urban and rural development, many of these organisms are losing their homes (Patterson). Belize’s coastal areas are usually sea grass beds. Sea grass destruction strip away habitats from numerous lobster, conch, fish, turtles, and manatees (CITE). Sea grass is the manatee’s main food source and destruction of these beds limits their grazing and range. Watercraft traffic in these shallow areas is also another reason of harming the sea grass beds.
Watercrafts are a huge threat for manatees by of degradation of sea grass beds. Watercrafts are also dangerous in the sense that their propellers strike the manatees which is one of the causes of their deaths. Many manatee accidents have been reported due to watercraft collision in Belize, and in the state of Florida. In 2003, the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission showed a report that a total of 305 manatees were killed due to watercrafts. This also depends on the speed of the watercraft that is travelling. If it is travelling at a higher speed, it can damage the manatee tremendously or even kill it. Scientists in Florida’s Marine Mammal