No, don’t worry, my blog’s account hasn’t been hacked. I know you’re used to Travel Pic Thursday featuring images from Europe or from places in my home state of Oregon, but today we’re heading off to tropical latitudes with Carlos (hence, the name Carlos Tours) to take a peek at some manatees.
Quick Belizean Manatee Facts
- The manatees you’ll see in Belize are West Indian manatees that measure about 9 feet long and weigh a hefty 800 to 1200 pounds. They look bit like a mashup between a seal and a hippo, but are actually close cousins to elephants.
- Carlos Tours takes you out to the 9000-acre marine wildlife sanctuary of Swallow Caye. This reserve was created through the great efforts of Chocolate (yes, that was really his name) Heredia, who was assisted in his work by his wife and by Carlos himself.
- West Indian manatees are too big and stay in too shallow of water to have any natural predators. That means their status of Endangered is thanks solely to humans (but isn’t that almost always the case?).
- These man-made problems include people zipping around too fast and crashing into to the poor beasts, the manatees getting tangled up in discarded fishing line, and the loss of habitat to development (their preferred hiding spots are areas of mangroves and these trees often get uprooted so developers can slap up oversized houses and resorts).
- To keep the Swallow Caye manatees safe, Carlos turns off the engines and slowly punts the boat along (this also helps prevent frightening the big critters). Guests are asked to remain quiet and are rewarded for their silence when the manatees, who realize all is cool, swim through the shallow water not far from the boat. (You are not allowed to get in the water with them).
- You can catch a trip with Carlos Tours on Caye Caulker. He also runs EXCELLENT snorkel tours to the Hol Chan Marine Reserve and Shark Ray Alley (where you will swim only feet away from – you guessed it – sharks and rays).
Want to learn more about manatees? Here’s a great overview from the National Wildlife Foundation.
Looking for specific info on the Swallow Caye manatees? Then visit the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary website.
Ready to look into a trip to Caye Caulker? Then start at the Go Caye Caulker website.