expedition

Special Edition Bionews: Caribbean Cetacean Society Expedition

Whale and dolphin research expedition 2022

This year, the third and sixth joint scientific expeditions of the Ti Whale An Nou program took place. Ti Whale An Nou means “our own little whales” in a mix of English and French Caribbean Creole. The research program studies the diversity, distribution and quantity of whales and dolphins in the Caribbean, as well as the threats facing them. The information is used to improve the conservation of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in the Wider Caribbean region.  The expedition started in Martinique and covered a total of eleven Caribbean islands during their journey. Six scientific expeditions of 15 days took place between March and September 2022.

The expedition also focused on improving capacity building in the Caribbean by training the several representatives of the Protected Area Management Organizations to conduct marine mammal science. Therefore, from the Dutch Caribbean representatives joined third and sixth joint scientific expedition .

This expedition is coordinated by the Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) and is made possible thanks to several partners including  the World Wide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and other partners. 

In this Special Issue Bionews  you will find information concerning:
 

 

Ti Whale An Nour 2022 Expedition Overview

Watch this video and learn more about this expedition and some participants from the Dutch Caribbean region. 

 

Protecting whales and dolphin in the Caribbean 

 Watch the video in which Tadzio Bervoets (former Director DCNA) explains: 

  • Why DCNA is supporting the CCS .
  • DCNA’s strategy to get support from the governments for the protection of transboundary species.

 

Whale and dolphin research program in the Caribbean 

Watch the video in which Jeffrey Bernus (CCS Expedition Leader) explains: 

  • The goal of Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS).
  • Why is it important to involve different islands throughout the Wider Caribbean region.
  • Lessons learned from the previous expeditions

 

Transboundary Protection
 

Fortunately, the marine mammals of the Caribbean Netherlands receive special protection within the the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary.  This sanctuary comprises all the waters of Bonaire and Saba and St. Eustatius. The name of the sanctuary “Yarari” is a Taíno Indian word, meaning ‘a fine place’ as it is intended to provide “a fine place” for marine mammals, sharks and rays. This special edition of BioNews contains information on the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary and an overview of the current knowledge on marine mammals, sharks and rays in the Dutch Caribbean. The goal is to eventually extend the borders of this sanctuary to also include the neighboring Dutch Caribbean islands: Aruba, Curaçao and St. Maarten.

Learn more about the marine mammals of the Dutch Caribbean by checking out the Yarari Marine Mammals and Shark Sanctuary Special Edition BioNews.

 

 

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Date
2022
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author

Marine mammals in the Caribbean: a threatened treasure in our waters

Nederlands and Papiamentu below.

 

Over the last two years, the Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) has been studying cetaceans (whales and dolphins) in the Lesser Antilles with the support of the World Wide Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and other partners.

Photo credit WWF-NL

CCS unveils the latest results as it has recently completed 6 new scientific expeditions in 2022 in all the Lesser Antilles. The findings show that our waters are very rich but threatened. More data are needed to better protect this resource which is one of the pillars of our blue economy. Thanks to the cooperative work carried out during the expeditions, 437 sightings of 21 species have been recorded in 2 years, including 202 sightings of juveniles.

“Ti Whale An Nou” (Our Little Whales) is the largest cetacean study program ever conducted in the Caribbean. It is first and foremost a local project, led and carried out by motivated West Indians, including people from the islands of the Dutch Caribbean, who are concerned about preserving their islands. Several employees of the Saba Conservation Foundation, St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA), STINAPA Bonaire, Nature Foundation St. Maarten, Aruba National Park Foundation, DCNA secretariat and WWF-NL joined the CCS team for this expedition. As cetaceans cannot recognize human boundaries, cooperation is essential to study and protect them. This is why the CCS has brought together in the field international participants, including members of the government and marine protected areas of 9 islands. Finally, it is an essential tool for local capacity building.

All the Caribbean islands depend on the marine ecosystem for their food and income, so it is important to protect it. Whales and dolphins play an essential role in maintaining the good condition of our ecosystems. They are pillars of our blue economy. However, the latest results of the CCS show that more than half (52%) of the cetaceans observed in 2021 have scars of anthropogenic origin. That is, traces of propellers, nets, collisions, etc. … inflicted by humans. The current lack of data does not allow us to effectively protect our natural heritage. This is why the CCS continues to organize inventories in all the islands. This is a first in terms of sustainable action of cooperation and protection of cetaceans in the Caribbean region.

Photo credit: WWF-NL

These actions are possible thanks to the support of partners: WWF-NL, Corail Caraïbes, the Parc Naturel régional de la Martinique, the EDF Group Foundation, Orange Caraïbes, SARA, DCNA, the Animal Welfare Institute, the Guadeloupe region, the Collectivité territoriale de Martinique, and Blue Marine Foundation.

 

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Nederlands

Zeezoogdieren in de Cariben: een bedreigde rijkdom in onze wateren

De afgelopen twee jaar heeft de Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) met steun van het Wereld Natuur Fonds (WWF-NL), de Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) en andere partners onderzoek gedaan naar walvisachtigen (walvissen en dolfijnen) in de Kleine Antillen.

CCS onthult de nieuwste resultaten nu het 6 nieuwe wetenschappelijke expedities heeft afgerond in 2022 over de hele Kleine Antillen. Uit de bevindingen blijkt dat onze wateren zeer rijk, maar bedreigd zijn. Er zijn meer gegevens nodig om deze hulpbron, een van de pijlers van onze blauwe economie, beter te beschermen. Dankzij de samenwerking tijdens de expedities zijn in twee jaar tijd 437 waarnemingen van 21 soorten geregistreerd, waaronder 202 waarnemingen van jonge dieren.

Photo credit WWF-NL

“Ti Whale An Nou” (Onze kleine walvissen) is het grootste walvisonderzoeksprogramma dat ooit in het Caribisch gebied is uitgevoerd. Het is in de eerste plaats een lokaal project, geleid en uitgevoerd door gemotiveerde West-Indiërs, inclusief mensen uit de eilanden van de Nederlandse Cariben, die bezorgd zijn over het behoud van hun eilanden. Verschillende medewerkers van Saba Conservation Foundation, St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA), STINAPA Bonaire, Nature Foundation St. Maarten, Aruba National Park Foundation, het DCNA secretariaat and  WWF-NL versterkten het team van CCS voor deze expeditie. Aangezien walvisachtigen geen menselijke grenzen erkennen, is samenwerking essentieel om ze te bestuderen en te beschermen. Daarom heeft de CCS in het veld internationale deelnemers bijeengebracht, waaronder leden van de regering en beschermde zeegebieden van 9 eilanden. Ten slotte is het een essentieel instrument voor lokale capaciteitsopbouw.

Alle Caribische eilanden zijn voor hun voedsel en inkomen afhankelijk van het mariene ecosysteem, dus is het belangrijk dit te beschermen. Walvissen en dolfijnen spelen een essentiële rol bij het in goede staat houden van onze ecosystemen. Zij zijn de pijlers van onze blauwe economie. Uit de laatste resultaten van de CCS blijkt echter dat meer dan de helft (52%) van de in 2021 waargenomen walvisachtigen littekens van antropogene oorsprong heeft. Dat wil zeggen, sporen van propellers, netten, botsingen, enz. toegebracht door de mens. Door het huidige gebrek aan gegevens kunnen we ons natuurlijk erfgoed niet doeltreffend beschermen. Daarom gaat de CCS door met het organiseren van inventarisaties op alle eilanden. Dit is een primeur op het gebied van duurzame samenwerking en bescherming van walvisachtigen in het Caribisch gebied.

Photo credit: WWF-NL

Deze acties zijn mogelijk dankzij de steun van partners: WWF-NL, Corail Caraïbes, het Parc Naturel régional de la Martinique, de EDF Group Foundation, Orange Caraïbes, SARA, DCNA, het Animal Welfare Institute, de regio Guadeloupe, de Collectivité territoriale de Martinique, en Blue Marine Foundation.

 

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Papiamentu

Mamíferonnan marino den Karibe: un rikesa menasá den nos awanan

Den e último dos añanan Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) a bin ta studia setáseonan (bayena i dòlfein) den Antia Menor ku sosten di Wereld Natuur Fonds (WWF-NL), Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) i otro partnernan.

Photo credit WWF-NL

CCS ta revelá e último resultadonan, awor ku resientemente nan a kompletá 6 ekspedishon sientífiko nobo den  2022, kubriendo tur e islanan di Antia Menor. E resultadonan ta mustra ku nos awanan ta hopi riku, pero nan ta ser menasá. Tin mester di mas dato pa por protehá mihó e rekurso importante akí, ku ta un di e pilánan di nos ekonomia blou. Danki na e trabou di kooperashon ku a ser hasí durante e ekspedishonnan, por a hasi 437 opservashon di 21 espesie den 2 aña, inkluyendo 202 opservashon di animalnan yòng.

“Ti Whale An Nou” (Nos propio bayenanan chikí) ta e programa di mas grandi ku a yega di ser kondusí pa  studia setáseonan den Karibe. E ta na promé lugá un proyekto lokal, guiá i ehekutá pa karibensenan motivá, inkluso hendenan di e islanan di Karibe Hulandes, kendenan ta preokupá tokante konservashon di nan islanan. Diferente empleado di Saba Conservation Foundation, St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation (STENAPA), STINAPA Bonaire, Nature Foundation St. Maarten, Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba, DCNA i WWF-NL ta forma parti di e tim di CCS pa e ekspedishon akí.

Pasobra setáseonan no por rekonosé fronteranan humano, kooperashon ta esensial pa studia i protehá nan. Ta p’esei CCS a trese huntu partisipantenen internashonal riba e tereno akí, inkluso miembronan di gobièrnu i di   organisashonnan ku ta manehá áreanan marino protehá di 9 diferente isla. Finalmente, e ta un hèrmènt esensial pa desaroyo di kapasidat lokal.

Tur e islanan di Karibe ta dependé di e ekosistema marino pa nan kuminda i entrada, pues ta importante pa protehá esaki. Bayena i dòlfein ta hunga un ròl esensial den mantené e bon kondishon di nos ekosistemanan. Nan ta pilánan di nos ekonomia blou. Sinembargo, e último resultadonan di CCS ta mustra ku mas ku mitar (52%) di e setáseonan opservá na 2021 tin sikatrisnan di orígen antropogéniko. Esei kiermen rastronan di propèler, reda, dalmentu, èts. ku a ser kousá pa hende. E falta di dato ku tin aktualmente no ta pèrmití nos pa protehá nos herensia natural di manera efektivo. Ta p’esei CCS ta sigui organisá ekspedishon pa hasi inventario na tur e islanan. Esaki ta e promé inisiativa pa loke ta trata akshon sostenibel di kooperashon i protekshon di setáseonan den region di Karibe.

Photo credit: WWF-NL

E akshonnan akí ta posibel danki na sosten di e partnernan: WWF-NL, Corail Caraïbes, Parc Naturel régional de la Martinique, EDF Group Foundation, Orange Caraïbes, SARA, DCNA, Animal Welfare Institute, region di Guadeloupe, Collectivité territoriale de Martinique, i Blue Marine Foundation.

 

 

 

 

Published in BioNews 58.

 

Date
2022
Data type
Media
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten

Pregnant Tiger Shark Expedition 2021 is well underway!

It’s finally happening! After over a year of corona-related delays the Pregnant Tiger Shark Expedition is finally underway. We just finished our very first day of tagging and, if I may say so, we started off with a bang. After a full day of tagging, we caught a total of 15 sharks: 14 reef sharks and one lucky (or unlucky, depending on your perspective) female tiger shark.

But, before we continue, let’s do some introductions. Over the next few days various expedition members will be writing some posts to update you on how the expedition is going, where we are, what we are doing, and what we hope to accomplish. I get the dubious honour of going first, so let’s set the bar high.

My name is Roxanne-Liana Francisca, but everyone calls me Rox. I work for STINAPA Bonaire as a Wildlife and Marine Biologist. For this expedition I will be one of the people ensuring that the data we are collecting is properly entered, tagged, and stored. Remember, it’s not science if you don’t write it down!

As the name of the expedition implies, we are heading to the Saba Bank to hopefully catch and tag some pregnant tiger sharks. Tiger sharks are a highly migratory species and have been known to cover vast distances. One of the sharks tagged in 2016 by the St. Maarten Nature Foundation, also joining on the expedition, was first tagged and released in St. Maarten and then picked up by the satellite tag all the way in Trinidad. Hopefully through this expedition, and the data we will gather, we will get a better idea of the migratory patterns of these sharks, and where they give birth, enabling us to better protect them.

Our team is made up of 20 people. This includes members of nature management organizations from 5 of the Dutch Caribbean islands. We have with us Aruba National Parks Foundation (FPNA)STINAPA BonaireNature Foundation St. MaartenSt. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA),the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF), as well as representatives of the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA)University of GroningenArizona State University, and World Wide Fund for Nature – The Netherlands(WWF-NL) who facilitated the necessary funds to realize this expedition.

Keep following us on DCNA’s website,  Facebook (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance), Instagram (dcnanature)  for daily updates!

 

Article published in the Special Edition BioNews: Tiger Shark Expedition

Date
2021
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba
Saba bank

Shark Handling Techniques

Hi everyone, my name is Giancarlo Nunes and I’m the Research and Conservation manager for Fundacion Parke Nacional Aruba. I can be considered a jack of all trades for this trip since I’ve been lucky enough to receive training on several of these expeditions. What I mostly do though is assist in getting the shark safely secured to the boat by either handling the head or the tail of the shark.

What is the proper way to restrain a shark for tagging?

Once a shark is hooked to the line, the line is then used to carefully guide the shark to the side of the boat with it’s head facing towards the front of the boat. Another crew member then secures the shark’s tail to the back end of the boat using a rope which is thick enough to hold the shark but also soft enough to not cut the shark’s skin. At this moment the shark is considered secured and the science team can start with data collection. During data collection it is important for the shark handler to continuously assess the shark’s health. One of the most important things during the expedition is to make sure the sharks are strong and healthy so they can be released with no issues.

How do you tag a shark?

Photo credit: Sami Kattan / Beneath the Waves

There are several types of tags being used on this expedition and each one serves a different purpose. All the tags are attached either on the shark’s fin or at the base of the fin. Shark fins are made out of cartilage which is the same material human ears are made of. Tagging a shark can be compared to piercing a person’s ear. The tags don’t affect the shark’s survival much like earrings don’t affect a person’s daily activities.

What type of tags are used?
There are many types of shark tags and each have a different purpose. For this expedition we will be using the following three types.
1. Floy tags are used as an external visual marker for researchers and fishermen to know if a shark as been tagged for research purposes. Floy tags are shaped like uncooked spaghetti which is why they are also called spaghetti tags. Floy tags contain contact information of the organization which tagged the sharks.
2. PIT tags are small chips which are inserted under the skin via a needle at the base of the fin and can not be removed as easily as a Floy tag. Each PIT tag has a unique code which can be read using a portable scanner.
PIT tagging a shark is comparable to chipping a pet animal for identification purposes.
3. Satellite tags are work via GPS and are attached to the top of the shark’s fin. A signal is sent to orbital satellites whenever a tagged shark’s fin breaches the water’s surface which allows us to track it’s location. Knowing where sharks go allow us to discover areas important to their survival such feeding and breeding habitats.

Keep following us on DCNA’s website,  Facebook (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance), Instagram (dcnanature)  for daily updates!

 

Article published in the Special Edition BioNews: Tiger Shark Expedition

Date
2021
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba
Saba bank

The value of sharks

My name is Francois Mille, I am a Marine Park Ranger at STENAPA in Sint Eustatius.

Sint Eustatius is a small volcanic island, 21km2, that belongs to the Dutch Kingdom. It was incorporated into the Netherlands in October 2010. There are about 3’500 souls living there. It is a dormant stratovolcano. The second highest mountain of the Netherlands.

Stenapa stands for St Eustatius National Park Foundation.  We manage 3 protected area and a botanical garden, which correspond to 33km2. Bigger than the island itself!

My role in the expedition involves various tasks. In the morning I hopped on the Queen Beatrix 2, the support boat. I also help placing the line in the water to catch the sharks, including baiting the hook and attaching the hook line to the main one. I really like this part because we must put the line close to each other, so you have no break in between.  At the end of the day, I prepare the equipment for the next day. They need a good rinsing because they do not like salt water. For that task I am helped by Leslie Hickerson, she is from Nature Foundation St. Maarten, so we have a good chat while doing this. Then I help whoever need helps!

But yesterday was great because I got to go on Lady Rebecca to help tag the biggest female Tiger shark, and that was great!

Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier) © Daniel Norwood

Sometimes people ask me how we could help the shark population.

  • First do not eat or buy any shark related product. Some country sells fins, meat, or liver oil from sharks.
  • Second, use less plastic. We use too much plastic, a part ends up in the ocean, and animal eat them, by mistake, confusing them with prey. Or worse, they get entangled in trash and drown.
  • Third, sharks have been on earth since before the first trees appeared. It is sad to think that humans are responsible for killing most of them. That humans are pushing some species to disappear completely. When humans catch sharks for their fins, they cut the fins from the sharks while they are alive and throw them back in the sea alive! Their death is horrible.

You might wonder why it is important to care about shark. If you have been watching Jaws, you might think we need to kill them all. But the reality is far from a Hollywood movie.

Sharks are very important because they are at the top of the food chain. Imagine a pyramid, they are on top, taking care of the large fish that are one step below them. Now, imagine no more sharks: those larger fish will not be hunted, therefore they will develop a lot, maybe a bit too much. Then one day those fishes would not get any food because they eat them all. So those will start to die as well. You will then end up with several steps of pyramid that would disappear completely. Before you know it, just like that all the fish are sick and dying, all the way to the plankton, and this can happen rapidly.

Sharks are important because as predator they will hunt the weak and the sick prey. They keep the marine ecosystem in balance.

A way to help shark is to create protected areas where you cannot harm them. The Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary was established by the Dutch government in 2015 to protect sharks in the Caribbean Netherlands.  This corresponds to the 3 following islands: Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatius. The purpose is to try to keep shark population steady as their numbers are on high decline.

You might be surprised but the more sharks there are, the more fish there will be.

Though we do not know everything about sharks, we do expeditions such as these. For example, we know that female tiger sharks cruise through the Saba Bank, but we do not know if they breed there.

And some fishermen with very large and long fish net catch shark by mistake. So it is important not to do that where sharks are protected.

It is important for those islands to protect the fish and it has an important economic impact.

But not only does the sanctuary protect sharks, but all the marine mammals in the area as there are dolphins and whales living there or just passing by during their migration.

 

Photos by: Daniel Norwood

 

Article included in Special Edition Bionews: Tiger Shark Expedition

Date
2021
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba
Saba bank

Uncovering the mystery of tiger shark reproduction in the eastern Caribbean

Much of the lives of the most iconic shark species – including the tiger shark – remains a secret, even to shark researchers. This is because these large sharks are capable of migrating thousands of miles across oceans in a single year. One of the most unsolved mystery of sharks’ lives is where adult females go during their pregnancy. Discovering the habitats that are important during this life stage will be critical for creating conservation protections for mother sharks and their developing pups.

Tiger sharks are wide-ranging marine predators that can carry around 10-80 (yes, up to 80!) pups within their womb while pregnant. Finally, after about 15 months in the womb, the mother tiger shark will give birth to the live pups that are around 75 cm long. While we know this basic information about tiger shark reproduction, we have yet to uncover many of the breeding grounds, gestation grounds, and pupping grounds for this migratory species. Discovering this information will require the use of novel technologies, and that’s where our research comes into play.

My name is Brooke Anderson and I am a PhD student at Arizona State University studying sharks, their movements, and their movements relate to reproduction. I am lucky to be a part of this team of researchers trying to figure out if and how pregnant tiger sharks are using the Yarari Sanctuary and the wider Caribbean.

To help solve this mystery, we must first set out to the Saba Bank and do some fishing. Once we catch a large female tiger shark, we will secure her along the research vessel and take several size measurements to confirm that she is healthy and mature. Female tiger sharks mature at a whopping 3 meters in length! We can also examine her for fresh bite marks on her fins or body, which indicates that she had recently mated and could be pregnant.

After we collect this information on her maturity, we will rotate her upside down in the water to initiate tonic immobility. Tonic immobility is a natural reflex in sharks that induces a trance-like state of inactivity. This trance-like state help keeps the shark calm and still for the next part of the workup where my expertise comes into play. I will be able to use a portable ultrasound (from E.I. Medical Imaging) – just like we could use on a human – to get a look inside the shark’s womb for hidden pups. If she is pregnant, we will see on the ultrasound many miniature tiger sharks inside their mother’s womb! We can even use the ultrasound to take measurements and determine the size of the pups – this helps us to estimate how far along in her pregnancy that the mother tiger shark is.

Image of a tiger shark embryo as seen on the portable ultrasound.

Next, we can attach a satellite tag to the mother tiger shark to track where she goes throughout her pregnancy in near real time. This will allow us to determine the extent that the Yarari Sanctuary, Saba Bank, and the surrounding eastern Caribbean are used as important habitats for pregnant tiger sharks for the very first time. With this information, we can help assess the effectiveness of current conservation and management strategies for this near-threatened and ecologically important species. Stay tuned to see if we were able to find pregnant tiger sharks and where they might be headed on their journey to motherhood.

Keep following us on DCNA’s website,  Facebook (Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance), Instagram (dcnanature)  for updates about the Pregnant Tiger Shark Expedition!

 

Article included in the Special Edition BioNews: Tiger Shark Expedition

Date
2021
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba
Saba bank

Expedition on the Saba Bank to Enhance Tiger Shark Protection

Starting August 1, 2021 a team of researchers will spend a week on the Saba Bank investigating the life-cycle of tiger sharks. Researchers will investigate the migration routes, where and when tiger sharks breed so they can protect them better within the Dutch Caribbean’s Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary as well as beyond. In this expedition members from the Saba Conservation Foundation (SCF)Nature Foundation St. Maarten (NFSXM), St. Eustatius National Parks (STENAPA)STINAPA Bonaire, the Aruba National Parks Foundation (FPNA), the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA) and World Wildlife Fund for Nature the Netherlands (WWF-NL) will participate.

© Sami Kattan

In 2016, the Saba Conservation Foundation, Nature Foundation St. Maarten, and Sharks for Kids  partnered together as part of DCNA’s Save our Sharks Project funded by the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. Since then, satellite tagging of tiger sharks has been conducted on the Saba Bank and around Sint Maarten. Through this research we now know that tiger sharks in Dutch waters travel throughout the Caribbean basin, with most of these tagged sharks being sexually mature females. During the upcoming expedition the researchers aim to not only tag and track more tiger sharks to further investigate the life cycle, but they will also measure if and how large the pups inside pregnant tiger sharks are. This will help to determine if the Saba Bank is in fact a breeding ground for tiger sharks, one of the main goals of the expedition.

Tiger Shark. © Jarrett Corke WWF-Canada

The other objective is to see where these transboundary sharks migrate to in order to better understand the importance of the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary and protect other geographical areas. The Yarari Sanctuary was established on September 1, 2015 and aims to protect marine mammals, sharks, and rays throughout the waters of Bonaire, Saba, and since September 2018, St. Eustatius. Collaboration between not only the six Dutch Caribbean islands but countries across the wider Caribbean as a whole is necessary in order to protect and conserve these essential species and ecosystems. Therefore the Caribbean Shark Coalition was recently formed to collaborate better in the entire Greater Caribbean region.

Celebrated on July 28 each year, World Nature Conservation Day acknowledges that a healthy environment is the foundation for a stable and healthy society. This includes a healthy ocean which, undoubtedly, depends on sharks. Sharks are large top predators that serve a critical role in maintaining balance in the marine ecosystem. Sharks help keep their prey population healthy by eating the weak while also affecting their prey’s distribution. In healthy oceans, sharks help to maintain stable fish stocks and healthy coral reefs and seagrass beds, which is important for the fisheries and the economy of the islands.

The Tiger Shark research expedition is coordinated by the DCNA and generously funded by WWF-NL through the Biodiversity Funds and the Dutch National Postcode Lottery. For more information on the Pregnant Tiger Shark Expedition, follow the participating organizations on Facebook, Instagram or DCNA’s website(https://dcnanature.org/news/).

 

Article published in BioNews 45 and Special Edition BioNews: Tiger Shark Expedition

Date
2021
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba
Saba bank
Author

Seabirds, marine mammals and human activities on the Saba Bank

During the HNLMS 'TYDEMAN' bathymetric expedition on the Saba Bank, April - May 1996, two observers spent 7 weeks on board and to collect data on the distribution of
seabirds, marine mammals, and human activities (fishing, shipping). The results show that the Saba Bank has a bird fauna that is relatively rich as compared with the surrounding seas, whilst the birds seem to be concentrated along the edges of the Bank. Observed cetaceans included three dolphin and one whale species. The bird and cetacean observations were made during a transitional season in which groups of animals are migrating into the area whilst others are migrating out.
Human activities included fishing (the distribution of fish pots was determined, and the activities of a few fishermen observed) and shipping. Especially the observation of large
tankers anchoring close to the edge of the Bank in areas where coral reefs occur, was identified as a threat.

The report presents the primary results of an opportunistic project which has yielded many rough but valuable data about the Saba Bank in April-May. These data are available
for future management of the Saba Bank. The preliminary elaboration of the data in this report confirm the importance of especially the edges of the the Saba Bank for birds and
suggest the Bank being a feeding area for populations that breed on the neighbouring islands. Together with the observations of different species of cetaceans, the results
confirm the idea that the Saba Bank has considerable importance or the marine biodiversity in the region of the leeward Antilles. The position of the Saba Bank, partly
within the territorial waters of the Netherlands Antilles but completely within the limits of a hypothetical Exclusive Economic Zone, offers a great promise that protection (and sustainable use) of these natural values can be legally effected.

Date
1996
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
KNAP96-03(2) Aidenvironment June 1996
Geographic location
Saba bank