27/06/2008Three Extraordinary Manatees Arrive at Xel-Ha

Three manatees, weighing a combined total of nearly a ton, arrived on Tuesday to Xel-Ha Natural Wonder, which will be their new home from today, a natural niche that will additionally serve to display their habits and lives for the appreciation and joy of visitors.

The specimens’ names are Bu’ul, the youngest, a male 8 months old, weighing around 220 lbs, whose name means “bean” in Mayan; Bu’ul’s mother Pompom, thirteen years old and weighing around 1,100 lbs; and Baaxal, an adolescent female whose name means “toy” in Mayan, weighing almost 650 lbs.

From early in the morning, a group of specialists from the Via Delphi Institute undertook the complicated task of transporting the creatures from the eco-archaeological park Xcaret, once the transfer permits were ascertained from the SEMARNAT’s Wildlife CEO.

In Xel-Ha, these manatees will be relocated to the Kay-Op Inlet (which takes its name after the parrot fish), where they will enjoy more room for their well-being and development. The manatee is an endangered specie, due to the unrestricted hunting and deterioration of its habitat. In Xel-Ha, in accordance to the company’s policy of natural preservation, a special program was specifically established for the manatee’s care and protection.

Manatees, also known as sea cows, are large marine mammals that can weigh up to 2000 lbs and measure up to 12’ long. Similarly to whales, their enormous bodies can only be supported in an aquatic environment. On land, their body weight would crush their own internal organs. These animals can live to be 70 years old.

Manatees are the only marine mammals known to be herbivores. To maintain their bodies at a constantly warm temperature, they must daily consume up to 1/10th of their body weight. For the typical sea cow, this means grazing on 50 to 90 lbs of lettuce daily.

Manatees can be found in shallow freshwaters with abundant aquatic vegetation, less than 16 feet deep, or saline waters near the confluence of rivers, lakes or coastal areas with tranquil waters (i.e. bays, inlets). Watching manatees swim is similar to beholding a slow-motion, underwater ballet, while they twist and turn silently in their watery world.