Wildtracks: Conservation, Research and Education

Wildtracks blog

Twiggy is out and about (Mr. Jamie)



A big update on Twiggy!

Release Day arrived! A team of seven Wildtracks volunteers took Twiggy by boat to the Shipstern Caye area, and released her into the water near the first of three manatee resting holes. We watched as she swam around, checking out her environment, until the sun set. Three of us (two volunteers and Neto), camped for the first few nights on a mangrove island, to wake up, bleary eyed and eager, to see how Twiggy had spent her first nights out. Like parents of a teenager who has gone to a party for the first time, we were relieved to see Twiggy that first morning. Spending the day on a boat observing a manatee from a distance may very well be exhausting, but being part of her rehabilitation and recovery, and to see her in the wild is a truly amazing thing. Seeing other manatees within 200m of her, seeing her raising her head to breathe, with seagrass dripping out of her mouth, watching her graze, with snippets of seagrass rising to the surface behind her - Twiggy really is a testament to the hard and relentless work that Paul & Zoe Walker do for every animal that they can.

We Belize that!!

Twiggy's movements have been constantly monitored and it was a real delight to watch her swim freely about, moving from seagrass patch to manatee hole and back again. Unfortunately, just before Easter, she decided to venture further, swimming along the coastline northwards, rounding Rocky Point, and ending up in Sarteneja just as the sun set. The Wildtracks Team went down to the village seafront to ensure people didn’t try to touch her or swim with her, while also building further awareness and pride in Sarteneja’s first release manatee. Late that night she continued westwards to a sheltered bay, with area dense mangroves, where she stayed until the next day. With Easter boat activity, and concerns for her safety, with so many strangers and racing boats, it was decided to retrieve Twiggy and take her back to Wildtracks until after Easter.

In late April, she was re-released back at the manatee hole, and was carefully monitored….we watched as she once again headed past Rocky Point, this time passing Sarteneja hidden by the darkness of night, and returning to the dense mangroves of the Cayo Falso bay. We watched as she visited another known manatee hole in that bay, leaving the security of the shallow waters of the shoreline, suggesting that she has once again met up with wild manatees. What was she going to do next?

The next afternoon she started to head east again, towards Rocky Point. She visited the Sarteneja wharf in the early evening, bringing the children out to admire her, with Neto on hand to avoid direct contact, and calling to advise that she was once again moving through the still, clear Sarteneja waters. We headed down to the seafront to monitor her progress, with the assistance of a gaggle of helpful youths, chattering happily as they went from pier to pier, watched for her satellite tag and talking of manatee conservation. She knew exactly where she was going, heading eastward at a steady rate. We monitored her until she safely left the area...it was a magical evening, following her from the coast, watching her in the moonlit water, with phosphorescence glowing as the waves splashed on the shoreline.

The following morning, we logged on to the manatee tracking page on the Wildtracks website…and there she was, back at the release site, moving in and out of the lagoon (now affectionately known as ‘Twiggy’s Lagoon’) to the west, and passing by the manatee resting hole. We now know that she can find her way back. As she gradually gets to know the area, we can be more confident in her keeping herself out of danger.


Published by: Zoe Walker at 2013-05-04 10:58:21   [Link to this article]

Check out the latest articles in the blog!