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A Day with the Kids!
Building Manatees!

PACT spent the day with students of Caye Caulker Primary School for Friends of Swallow Caye’s (FOSC) “Manatee Sand Sculpture Competition.” Established in 1996, FOSC’s mission is to “safe-guard the future of manatees by reducing threats to their health and habitat.” FOSC is a community based organization, which co-manages the Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary (SCWS)—a sanctuary declared for the protection of the endangered manatee.

Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary (SCWS)
SCWS is located in the Belize District and is roughly 10 minutes away from Belize City (by boat). The protected area covers approximately 8,790 acres and is home to a healthy population of manatees. The American crocodile, bottlenose dolphin and upside-down jellyfish also call this area home.

What are Manatees?
Abundant in Belize are the Antillean Manatees (Trichechus manatus manatus), sub-species of the West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus), which is more numerous in Belize than anywhere else in the world. These manatees are large, gentle mammals that reside in estuaries; slow, shallow rivers; canals; coastal areas; and saltwater bays. They surface for air every 3-5 minutes but can remain underwater for up to 20 minutes. They are herbivores, eating only plants and consuming 10-15% of their body weight daily. The average adult manatee weighs 1000-1500 pounds and grows to 10 feet in length. Manatees range in color from gray to brown and have a paddle-shaped tail and two flippers that they use to propel their bodies through water and to scoop up their food.

Friends of Swallow Caye (FOSC) Project
In December 2010, PACT awarded $100,000 to FOSC towards their project “Research, Management and Communications Development at SCWS.” The project focuses on improving the management of SCWS. With this support, the FOSC is preparing their first ever management plan and business plan in order to effectively manage the sanctuary. FOSC is also conducting necessary manatee research; marketing and outreach promotions; and upgrading the sanctuary building and other facilities in the area. FOSC expects this project to improve the communication with the entire public, and users of the sanctuary. FOSC is working to ensure that proper and timely information on and about manatee protection is available to all Belizeans and visitors. On this occasion, FOSC scaled up the communities’ involved by conducting a “Manatee Sand Sculpture Competition.”

Manatee Sand Sculpture Competition
The Manatee Sand Sculpture Competition was a great success! FOSC held this event in celebration of Earth Day 2011; highlighting the West Indian Manatees. Students of all levels from the Caye Caulker Roman Catholic Primary School competed for first, second, and third place. Students in teams of 6 were tasked with the goal of producing a sculpture of sand depicting a manatee. The sculpture could not be smaller than 5 feet; had to be completed in 2 hours; was to be built with all natural elements; and be able to sustain itself long enough for judging. With sand, water, shovels, a little help from parents and adults, and a whole lot of creativity, these students set off to work.

Chocolate (Lionel Heredia, President, FOSC) gave an emotional welcome to the students. He spoke on his love for manatees and the work he has been doing and continues to do with FOSC to protect them. He wants for “everybody around the world to appreciate manatees now and in the future.”

Teams were judged based on several things the main ones being teamwork, originality, and presentation of the sculpture—about manatees and the importance of earth day. Four people were tasked with the judging including an APAMO and PACT representative. The selection was challenging, as all teams expressed their creativity in different forms and successfully presented their knowledge on manatees. After a lengthy debate, the judges finally concluded on 3 winners.


1st Place – Team 5

                2nd Place – Team 6                                    3rd Place – Team 1

At the end of the day, all teams were winners as they all did such a fabulous job! Each team was awarded prizes including trips to Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary and Hol Chan Marine Reserve, diving lessons, Manatee t-shirts, manatee posters, and school supplies!

How can you help?
Become a member today!

Individual Plan
Non-Belizeans: US $25
Belizeans: BZ $25

Family Plan
Non-Belizeans: US $50
Belizeans: BZ $50
By becoming a member, you help FOSC to protect the endangered manatees at SCWS. Your donations help with monitoring, patrolling, and management of the area.

Visit Swallow Caye Wildlife Sanctuary! For more information, please visit

To view more photos:

PACT was formally established in January 1996 with the passing of the Protected Areas Conservation Trust Act, No. 15 of 1995, creating the institution as a Statutory Board. The functions of PACT are to encourage and promote, for the benefit and enjoyment of the present and future generations of the people of Belize, the provision, protection, conservation and enhancement of the natural and cultural resources of Belize. The PACT is managed by a Board of Directors that is comprised of Government agencies, non-government organizations and individual experts.

All of us have a role to play in protected areas management!


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Created by Joyce in 4/27/2011 11:26:46 AM
Very Informative!!! Very happy to see these organizations do community outreach and involve the kids.... I think the kids loved it very much.

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