My Life With Manatees

Written By Reid, Latitudes ’19 Belize

My time at Wildtracks Belize has been amazing. It has been everything I thought it was. I wake up every morning at 6 AM, change into my wet clothes, and prepare to feed our seven manatees. I begin with making the formula they drink every day, which is pretty much a banana smoothie. Then we have the frames we put sea grass in that we collect in the lagoon every day for them to eat. Then we hop in the water and begin our feed. We do a feed four times a day and now with the new baby manatee Sandy that came in we feed her six times a day.

It has been amazing learning about manatees and each individual’s personality and seeing their behavior change over my three month stay and watching them grow has been so incredible. I feel like I’m a dad taking care of 7 very big children It is a lot of responsibility but it makes me very happy caring for them. I also take care of all the chickens and ducks and I care for the ocelot and margay, which are our cats.

My favorite pre-release manatee is Khaleesi. I wish I knew what goes on in her head I am convinced she thinks she is a dog. She begs for her milk, makes this cute funny face, grabs my leg, and pulls herself out of the water. Yes, this is cute but she is about 650 or 700 pounds so it does not feel too great supporting all that weight on my leg. Lucky and Mitch are best friends they came in as babies together and they have been together ever since. Lucky and Mitch like to eat my pants on some occasions they almost pulled my pants right off.

My favorite inside Manatee is Callie. Callie is very calm and happy and drinks her milk very quickly. She likes to hug your leg while drinking and it is so cute. When there is no more milk then your shirt will be a replacement for her. She also likes to swim around on her back with her flippers tucked in and she has this adorable smile.
We have the inside pool for manatees that start to experience what it is like to have temperature change and trying mangroves and learning the skills they will need to survive in the wild. The outside manatees are on pre-release. This is the final stage before release we set them loose into the lagoon they get a tracker around the tail so we can see where they explore. Sandy our new manatee is about a few months old. She is in her own pool with a volunteer keeping her company throughout the day cuddling with her and holding her hand she is so sweet and happy.

I learned so much here at Wildtracks and I hope to come back one day. This experience for sure is one I will never forget.