Forty-one additional cetacean records are reported for the Leeward Dutch Antilles, expanding the list of documented records to 70 (53 sightings and 17 strandings). First records are given for the melonhead whale Peponocephala electra (Gray), such that now 13 species are confirmed for these islands. The most sighted whales are Bryde’s whale and shortfin pilot whale, whereas the most sighted dolphins are spinner and bottlenose dolphins. Most cetacean movement is upstream and towards the east/southeast. Reported strandings have been on the rise, of which 47% involved beaked whales (goosebeak whale and Antillean beaked whale)
Caribbean Journal of Science
Satellite image-based mapping of tropical forests is vital to conservation planning. Standard methods for automated image classification, however, limit classification detail in complex tropical landscapes. In this study, we test an approach to Landsat image interpretation on four islands of the Lesser Antilles, including Grenada and St. Kitts, Nevis and St. Eustatius, testing a more detailed classification than earlier work in the latter three islands. Secondly, we estimate the extents of land cover and protected forest by formation for five islands and ask how land cover has changed over the second half of the 20th century. The image interpretation approach combines image mosaics and ancillary geographic data, classifying the resulting set of raster data with decision tree software. Cloud-free image mosaics for one or two seasons were created by applying regression tree normalization to scene dates that could fill cloudy areas in a base scene. Such mosaics are also known as cloud-filled, cloud-minimized or cloud-cleared imagery, mosaics, or composites. The approach accurately distinguished several classes that more standard methods would confuse; the seamless mosaics aided reference data collection; and the multiseason imagery allowed us to separate drought deciduous forests and woodlands from semi-deciduous ones. Cultivated land areas declined 60 to 100 percent from about 1945 to 2000 on several islands. Meanwhile, forest cover has increased 50 to 950%. This trend will likely continue where sugar cane cultivation has dominated. Like the island of Puerto Rico, most higher-elevation forest formations are protected in formal or informal reserves. Also similarly, lowland forests, which are drier forest types on these islands, are not well represented in reserves. Former cultivated lands in lowland areas could provide lands for new reserves of drier forest types. The land-use history of these islands may provide insight for planners in countries currently considering lowland forest clearing for agriculture.
The main conclusion from this study is that the Saba Bank has little modern material/ sediment deposited in relation to present sea level. This contradicts with previous beliefs such as Spencer’s claim that the bank surface “has been leveled by coral growth and sands derived from them”.
The study found the following:
- Minimal reef development.
- Limited data from the survey revealed a sparse coral cover but abundant crustose coralline algae and sponges.
- The Saba community showed no sign of forming an interlocking reef framework.
- Sediments rich in residual material derived from late Cenozoic limestone bedrock.
- Most samples from this area had relatively large quantities of calcite, which suggests erosion of bedrock on Saba Bank.
- The internal structure of Saba Bank remains unknown; the surveys lacked sufficient sub-bottom penetration to disclose information about internal structure.
We document 29 butterfly species for the island of Aruba and 32 for Bonaire. We also document five new records for Curaçao, increasing the total to 58 species. The three islands have inherently similar faunas but those of Aruba and Bonaire are significantly impoverished compared to Curaçao. The decreased diversity is ascribed to human intervention and degradation of the environment.