I arrived safely in Great Harbour Cay (Berry Islands) late Tuesday afternoon and was greeted by Kendria Ferguson, BMMRO’s team leader for this manatee tracking project. At the field house, I also met Russell Morgan (Dolphin Cay, Atlantis) and soon, the three of us were on the boat, looking for Rita & Georgie. We did not have to go far before we picked up the radio signal from their tags. Well, technically we were mostly picking up Rita’s signal – Georgie, being a calf, has his tag under water a lot of the time! Soon, we had a visual on the two tags just outside GHC harbor. While we were watching the pair, we also saw different manatees! At least two manatees, possibly three, rolled at the surface, so Kendria suspects Rita & Georgie were following these manatees, who know the area better than Rita & Georgie. As we kept our eyes on Rita & Georgie, we alerted boaters coming into the harbor of the manatees’ presence, encouraging them to slow down and be on the lookout.
On Wednesday the winds picked up, which meant we had to stay on shore throughout the day. I joined Kendria at the local All Ages school, where we met with both lower primary and upper primary students. Their enthusiasm was fantastic! In addition to the obvious tracking efforts, Kendria is also here to provide public education to both the residents and visitors to GHC. I can still hear the children’s chant: “Don’t speeeeeed, for the manateeeeees!” Hopefully their message will reach the adult boat operators in their families.
This project, like any project, is partially a labor of love. Various entities involved in the project have donated funds, time and/or in-kind supplies. But, funding is always a challenge, so BMMRO has created an “Adopt-A-Manatee” program. The adoption kits include a 5×7 photo of manatees, adoption certificate, Rita & Georgie’s story and the BMMRO newsletter. If you are interested in adopting Rita or Georgie, please email . Please specify that you heard about this program from DCP. To make a donation to directly offset my travel costs (I’m donating my time here), please click here, making sure to specify your donation is for the manatee program.
And of course, follow along with the weekly blog here: http://www.bmmro.blogspot.com/.