Scientific Expedition Report Ti Whale An Nou program 2023


Ti Whale An Nou is a collaborative program launched in 2021, dedicated to the research, education, and conservation of whales and dolphins in the Caribbean region. The program
emphasizes local leadership and involves participants from various Caribbean islands in scientific expeditions to gather essential information for cetacean conservation. Six expeditions
were conducted from March to September 2023, covering the islands of the Lesser Antilles. This report describes the findings of the seventh expedition of 2023, the first standardized cetacean survey in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao).

Key results & findings:
• In total 29 observations of 8 cetacean species were recorded: Atlantic spotted dolphin, Bottlenose dolphin, Kogia sp., Pantropical spotted dolphin, Pygmy killer whale, Short-finned
pilot whale, Sperm whale, and Spinner dolphin.

• Valuable data was collected on species diversity, distribution, relative abundance, human threats, calf presence, social clan distribution, and more.

• Significant observations were made, including the discovery of 13 new sperm whales in Bonaire and Curacao. Further research is needed to identify to which Sperm whale clans these
individuals belong.

• Several juveniles of various species were identified, suggesting the ABC islands function as a crucial nursery habitat.

• The observations of Bryde's whales contribute to understanding distribution and migration  patterns of this understudied species.

• Photo ID evidence highlighted human impacts on these species, emphasizing the need for conservation measures.

• The expedition contributed to mapping offshore distribution of seabirds. A total of 12 seabirds species were recorded: Royal Tern, Sooty Tern, Common Tern, Unidentified Tropicbird,
Brown Pelican, Brown Noddy, Laughing Gull, Magnificent Frigate bird, Masked Booby, Brown Booby, Red-Footed Booby, and Unidentified Shearwater.

• A total of 26 island residents participated, representing each of the three islands and brought together governments, biodiversity conservation NGOs, island development organizations,
marine park authorities, and fisheries cooperatives. Fishermen and local marine park rangers were trained, enhancing their knowledge of cetaceans and conservation efforts.

Future perspectives:
The findings of this expedition can inform the development of a management plan for the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary in Bonaire, with potential implications for extending the sanctuary to include Aruba and Curacao. In addition, these findings, combined with the findings of the previous expedition of CCS, can help inform regional species assessments and push for the creation of a Caribbean regional IUCN red list.

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