The summer days in Belize are packing on the HEAT and everybody is looking for ways to cool off. Most of us hit the beach, but recently there has been a massive influx of sargassum seaweed that is accumulating along the shoreline and the temperature of the sea water has been very high as well. Everyone is feeling the heat, including the beautiful sea creatures. Ambergris Today was contacted by the crew at Belize Pro Dive Center that was worried about the sudden discovery of dead fish along the shore on Monday, August 25, 2014.
The carcass of a deep sea creature – the beautiful spotted eagle ray was seen floating ashore as well as several other fish and even eels. What is causing these creatures to die is uncertain as there are several factors that could contribute to the death of the animals, including the increase in water temperature, the feeding of the sea creatures or the sargassum seaweed wash up.
Reports were made to the office of Hol Chan Marine Reserve so that the Marine Biologist could conduct some research as to the cause of death of these marine creatures. Kirah Forman, Marine Bioligist of Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Dr. Rachel Graham – Executive Director of Mar Alliance and Park Ranger Jairo Osorio headed out to investigate and perform an onsite necropsy.
According to Dr. Rachel Graham, the female eagle ray seemed healthy, there was no evidence of blood on the creature, it had not been hooked or speared but may have been impacted by a boat based on the peeling of skin on its dorsal side. The gut did not appear to have any parasites, the liver was healthy and it was not bearing any pups. There were no obvious signs of trauma or hemorrhaging underneath which then precludes the boat impact.
The reason as to why the spotted eagle ray died remains uncertain. As to the dead fish and eels, a toxicology examination is yet to be performed and results will be forthcoming in days to come.
Boaters are asked to practice extreme caution when moving in and out of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve/Shark Ray Alley so as to ensure that sharks and rays near the surface are not hit by boats/propellers.
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