In November 2013 aerial surveys were conducted for the first time in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire to evaluate aerial surveys as a tool for marine mammal surveys in these waters, and to assess the distribution and abundance of marine mammals. A secondary aim of these surveys was to collect data on the occurrence of other megafauna (e.g. sharks, rays, turtles) and seabirds. Marine mammals were assessed using distance sampling methods; for other species a strip transect method was applied.
Four marine mammal species were sighted, all of them cetaceans: Humpback Whale, Atlantic/Pantropical Spotted Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and Rough-toothed Dolphin. The total number of individuals seen was 107. Numbers of sightings were too low to calculate densities and abundance estimates for any of the species recorded.
In addition to the marine mammals, sharks, rays, turtles and seabirds were recorded. Noteworthy observations include the first record of a (living) Basking shark and records of seabirds that are scarcely documented in these waters: Red-billed Tropicbird and either Great Skua or South Polar Skua. The number of sightings for these groups were too low to calculate densities and abundance estimates for any of the species recorded.
This survey was commissioned by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (EZ), and World Wildlife Fund The Netherlands.