The Research Project

The Invitation

Help Caryn, Katie, and the people of Belize determine the conservation needs of the Antillean manatees living in the Belizean coastal waters. Examine the data, discuss the issues, and share with us your ideas for protecting the manatees!

The Problem

Like marine mammals the world over, manatee populations are in decline. Manatees are threatened by a loss of their habitat, water pollution, recreational boating, commercial boat traffic, recreational and commercial fishing, and development—both locally and inland.

The Drowned Cayes (Caryn & Katie's study area) offer a rare opportunity to study these gentle creatures. The study area contains a variety of different habitats, the water is relatively clear, and the population of manatees found there are largely undisturbed by human activities. However, the government of Belize and conservation groups are concerned that as the human population increases so will their use of the coastal waters where manatees live. It is important now to set aside areas that are critical to the manatees’ survival.

The Research

In order to protect manatees, Katie and Caryn are seeking more information about them and their habitat needs. In particularthey want to know:

Caryn and Katie have been conducting field research in Belize to determine answers to these questions. Information gathered by Caryn and Katie will be shared with the Belize Coastal Zone Management Authority, the National Manatee Working Group, and the Conservation Division of the Belize Department of Forestry. These groups will use this information to update The Belize Manatee Recovery Plan.

The Data

In order to find answers to these questions, Caryn and Katie use a variety of tools and research methodologies. Our first two days on the expedition will be spent learning what these are and how to use them so that we can be of help while out in the field with them. We will post our data to the Daily Data section along with other interesting things we find during our two-week stay on the Drowned Cayes.