The occurrence of basking sharks in the Caribbean Sea is only recently documented by satellite tagging studies, which show that some individuals migrate through the region en route from waters off the east coast of the USA to waters off northeastern South-America. The observation of a basking shark on 7 November 2013 ca. 130 km north-northeast of Aruba during an aerial survey of marine mammals in the waters around the Dutch Leeward Islands is reported. This observation constitutes the rst visual record of a living basking shark in the Caribbean.
Caribbean Journal of Science
Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory’s monitoring and mitigation program during an academic seismic study in April–June 2004 was the largest cetacean survey undertaken to date in the southeast Caribbean Sea. A total of 10,007 km (904 h) of visual observations occurred from the seismic vessel R/V Maurice Ewing and from the support vessel R/V Seward Johnson II. In addition, 7375 km (846 h) of passive acoustic monitoring for vocalizing cetaceans occurred from the Ewing via a towed 250-m hydrophone array. Approximately 1293 cetaceans in 46 groups were seen from the two vessels, and 78 acoustic detections were made. Nine cetacean species were identified of which the long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis), Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) were sighted most frequently. The striped dolphin (S. coeruleoalba), spinner dolphin (S. longirostris), pantropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuata), short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), and Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) were also identified during visual surveys. Only the sperm whale was positively identified by acoustic monitoring alone. At least 17 sperm whale detec- tions (visual and/or acoustic) were made around the islands and atolls of the Venezuelan Archipelago near and beyond the 1000-m depth contour. Overall cetacean density in intermediate-depth water (100 to 1000 m deep) was five times greater than in deep (>1000 m) water. This study addresses previous data gaps on the occurrence of cetaceans in shelf and offshore waters across a wide area of the southeast Caribbean Sea in spring.
Coral reefs throughout the Caribbean have suffered the effects of human activities, including overfishing, nutrient pollution, and global climate change. Yet despite systematic deterioration of reef health, there still exists appreciable variability of reef conditions across Caribbean sites. The mid-depth (20 m) fringing reefs of Bonaire and Curaçao, in the leeward Netherlands Antilles, remain healthier than reefs on many other Caribbean islands, supporting relatively high fish biomass and high coral cover. Approximately one half of the fish biomass is composed of planktivorous species, with the balance comprised of herbivorous and carnivorous species. Only a small fraction (<7%) of the fish biomass is composed of apex predators, predominantly due to the essential absence of sharks from these reefs. Coral cover across these islands averages 26.6%, with fleshy macroalgae and turf algae covering most of the remaining benthos. Coral cover was not correlated with the biomass of any fish groups, failing to provide a clear link between fish activities (e.g., herbivory) and the health and persistence of corals. However, there was a strong, positive correlation between macroalgal cover and herbivorous fish biomass. This result is in contrast to previously published reports and may identify a disparity between correlational studies conducted within islands (or nearby islands) versus studies comparing results from across islands. These data provide insights into the structure of reef communities in the southern Caribbean Sea.
On July 26, 1991, a Curacao fisherman landed a sea turtle from the wave-exposed north coast of the island. The animal was caught by hook and line baited with fish.measurements of the turtle are given and this is noted as a frist record fo this type of sea turtle for Curacao. In addition the first formally documented hatching of a loggerhead turtle nest on Curacao is reported, on a small cove beach in Northwest Curacao.
At least 33 native species of marine mammals have been documented from the Wider Caribbean Region (WCR). For many of these species, the waters of the region serve as primary habitat for critical activities that include feeding, mating and calving. However, relatively little remains known about their biology, life history, distribution and behavior, particularly also around the windward Dutch islands (Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten). In this study we compiled 84 marine mammal records for the waters of these islands, comprising 9 previously published records and 75 new records. A total of eight distinct species are documented, six of which are cetaceans. In comparison to the leeward Dutch islands (Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire), documented strandings are few. Results suggest that whereas beaked whales and Bryde’s whale are more common around the leeward Dutch islands, humpback whales are more common around the windward Dutch islands. This study concludes that more dedicated efforts are needed to better document and understand cetacean composition, seasonality and use of the both the windward and leeward Dutch Caribbean maritime territories. Such initiatives should help further clarify any potential regional differences as well the underlying causes thereof. Several nations, including the USA, the Dominican Republic and France, have established marine mammal sanctuaries in their Caribbean waters. Declaring the Dutch EEZ as a marine mammal sanctuary would be a valuable contribution to the conservation of marine mammals in the region.
Records of whale sharks in the Caribbean are relatively sparse. Here we document 24 records of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus Smith 1882) for the Dutch Caribbean, four for the windward islands of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, and twenty for the southern Caribbean leeward islands of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire. The results suggest a higher abundance of whale sharks in the southern, leeward part of the Dutch Caribbean, likely associated with seasonal upwelling-driven productivity known for the southeastern Caribbean area. A bimodal seasonal pattern as documented for Venezuela was not as pronounced in our findings for the Leeward Dutch Caribbean and whale sharks were recorded in 9 months of the year. In the Windward Dutch Caribbean all (4) records so far were for the winter months of December-February. Most records involved large and solitary animals in contrast to areas elsewhere suspected of being nursery habitat. According to local sources, whale sharks were most often associated with feeding tunas and sea surface swarms of crab megalopae.
Although the flora of Bonaire has been well studied three previously undocumented species have been found for Bonaire. Two of these three species are fern species and are new for the six islands of the Dutch Caribbean. The third species (Capparis linearis) occurs also on Curaçao and Aruba and is also a rare species on those islands. Data on the distribution of twelve rare species (eleven are previously unreported rare species for the Washington-Slagbaai National Park (WSNP) are also presented. A number of publications indicate the deleterious effects of introduced goats, donkeys and pigs on the vegetation and flora of islands. These animals are also found in the WSNP. The lack of saplings and the (very) small numbers of seedlings of only a few rare tree species found in the present study are ascribed to the deleterious effects of goats, donkeys and pigs.
We conducted fieldwork on Bonaire and Curaçao, Netherlands Antilles, to assess the distribu- tion and abundance of resident diurnal raptors. In total, seventy-three 1 km2 sample plots were selected following a stratified random method and three landscape types were distinguished, i.e. cultivated area, hills and terrace. The diurnal raptors observed were the Crested Caracara Caracara plancus (93 records), White-tailed Hawk Buteo albicaudatus (37), and the American Kestrel Falco sparverius (44 on Curaçao only). In the hills and on the terraces, all species were more abundant on Curaçao than on Bonaire. Caracaras were found significantly more in hills compared to terraces or cultivated land on both islands, as did White-tailed Hawks on Curaçao. The American Kestrel made more use of cultivated area and least of hills. As detection of the raptors did not seem to differ between the landscapes and between the islands, we infer that the observed differences in distribution are a true reflection of their habitat use. Our results suggest that the ongoing urbanization on Curaçao and Bonaire may lead to a decline in the Caracara and the White-tailed Hawk. For the American Kestrel, cultivated areas – including urbanized parts – apparently provide the open area the birds need for hunting.
The cosmopolitan Barn Owl Tyto alba (Scopoli) lives on many Caribbean islands, where a number of morphologically distinct forms have evolved. Some of these forms have been considered separate species, like the taxa glaucops, nigrescens, and insularis on Hispaniola and the Lesser Antilles (Peters, 1940; Bruce in Del Hoyo et al., 1999; Ko¨nig et al., 1999). In the Netherlands Antilles (southern Caribbean) only Curac¸ao is known to have a breeding Barn Owl population. This endemic form, known as bargei, differs markedly from the taxa of the nearby mainland by its small size and relatively well-feathered feet
Based on a field survey and review of published records, I report the occurrence of 13 species of fishes in fresh waters of Curaçao. Seven species are new or previously unpublished freshwater records for the island. New records are also provided for the adjacent islands of Aruba and Bonaire. Although the native freshwater fish fauna is dominated by predatory gobiid and eleotrid fishes, the most frequently encountered species was the endemic molly, Poecilia vandepolli. The next most frequent species was the native mountain mullet (Agonostomus monticola), followed by the exotic Mozambique tilapia (Oreochromis mossambicus) and the native emerald sleeper (Erotelis smaragdus). High dams block surface water flows in Curaçao and prevent migration of native amphidromous fish. The introduced tilapia has apparently reduced the abundance of native species.