Rare Belize Manatee Sighting Caught on Video at Blackbird Resort

by

ManateeBelize is home to a sub-species of the West Indian manatee, one of four living species of manatees. The other three are the West African manatee, the Amazonian manatee and the dugong. The West Indian  manatee is divided into two species, Florida & Antillean. Manatees thrive in warm waters due to its slow metabolism. Because of year-round Caribbean waters, the Antillean  manatee does not need to migrate as the Floridian manatee does when the temperature drops below 86 degrees.

In the US, West Indian manatees are protected under federal law by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, and the Endangered Species Act of 1973. The Florida species specifically have suffered human-related injury or death due to pollution, boating accidents and ingestion of fish hooks, litter and monofilament line. The Antillean manatee found in Belize has suffered less due to lesser population of watercraft, however, it is listed as endangered under Belize’s Wildlife Protection Act of 1981.

An adult manatee averages 10 feet in length and weighs between 800-1200 pounds. These slow-moving, gentle creatures spend their time eating, traveling or resting in shallow waters. Manatees are herbivores; munching on seagrass and other plant life, resembling cows that graze for much of the day on land, bestowing upon them the nickname “sea cow”.  Since manatees are mammals they must surface for air. When exerting energy eating or playing, this could be as often as every 30 seconds, or when resting they can remain submerged for up to 20 minutes.

Having no known natural enemies, they may live as long as 60 years and generally travel solo. Females mature at around five years and give birth every two to five years to usually one calf, who is born measuring two to four feet and weighing between 6o-70 pounds. They stay with mommy up to three years before moving on their own.

In the past, manatees were often mistaken for mermaids by the first Europeans to discover them. However, upon getting a closer look, they were disappointed to discover they were not quite the alluring, mysterious half-woman, half-fish creatures of mythical fairytales.

Seeing and filming one of these intriguing creatures is a rare treat and our very own Divemaster Cardinal, who has been with us for over 5 years, has never spotted one. Many thanks to our guest Dave Runnalls who was able to capture this amazing footage last week during a dive trip to the Great Blue Hole! Please enjoy our video and be sure to learn more about the Belizean manatee by visiting Wildtracks, a non-profit organization formed in 1996 dedicated to “Conservation, Education & Research.”

 

Tagged with: , , , ,

EPIC EXCURSIONS: Blue Hole (Lighthouse Reef Atoll)

by

Blackbird offers one of the most exciting dive excursions in the world – the famous Blue Hole Adventure Day. Departing every Tuesday, this visually stunning – below and above the water – adventure takes dive adventurers to some of the most spectacular underwater destinations on the planet: The Blue Hole, Half Moon Wall and The Aquarium.
bluehole01

Operating from within Turneffe Atoll, located 24 miles (38 km) east of Belize City, Blackbird Caye Resort is situated only one and a half hours by boat from The Blue Hole, which means our guests are able to leave at 8am from Blackbird Resort and by 9:30am be in the water — that’s fast

In 1971 Jacques Cousteau, a famous undersea explorer, dubbed the Blue Hole as one of the world’s top ten scuba diving sites. This has caused the structure to become very popular among diving enthusiasts. Cousteau was famous for helping invent the first aqua-lung device that allowed humans to stay underwater for long periods of time. He also explored all five of Earth’s oceans for over thirty years.

We take divers to a max depth of 130 feet (40 meters) for around eight minutes to view an astonishing array of marine wildlife and coral in the clearest of waters. The entire dive takes roughly half an hour. Snorkelers are also able to explore the rim of the Blue Hole and will often see grey sharks up to 50 feet (16 meters) below.
bluehole02
Half Moon Caye — an island within the Lighthouse Reef Atoll system — is the second stop. The trip is breath-taking as the boat glides over 10 ft (3 meters) of crystal-clear turquoise waters — in the middle of the ocean. You will catch a glimpse of the red-footed boobie — a rare bird that resides on the atoll, the largest nesting site in the world.

Not only is it a World Heritage Site, but the reef hosts a wide range of rare and endangered coral and fish species. Sharks of all shapes and sizes flock from far and wide to feed at this site. Eagle rays and turtles also frequent the area.

A barbeque also awaits hungry divers and snorkelers, lovingly prepared by our very own chef. Chicken, burgers, fruits and vegetables are slowly grilled to make sure you don’t go hungry following your underwater exploration. It’s not your usual packed lunch, everything is cooked on the island using wood and coal fire grill. Our secret Caribbean marinade is second to none.

After a mouth-watering feast, the third dive site awaits: The Aquarium. The dive site is located within the Lighthouse Atoll and lives true to its name: the area is bursting with aquatic life with an abundance of schooling fish from School Master Snappers, Creole Wrasse, Queen Angelfish, Banded Butterflyfish and Honeycomb Trunkfish.

Renowned for its crystal clear waters — with visibility up to 80 ft (24 meters) — the site plummets to depths of up to 50 feet (15 meters). The Aquarium is reachable by boat, 13 miles east of Turneffe Atoll, to the northeastern corner of Long Caye.
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here at Blackbird, you won’t find a more safety conscious dive crew — as a remote resort our standards are incredibly high. We always go one step further to ensure your safety.

Large groups are welcome — the most people accommodated on one trip was 33, on top of nine crew.

Tagged with: , , ,