Marine mammals

Bonaire Coastal Dolphin Project

The Bonaire Coastal Dolphin Project was launched in February 2008 in collaboration with STINAPA and CIEE Research Station Bonaire.

 

This is the first photo-identification catalogue for botllenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Bonaire. 

Date
2008
Data type
Other resources
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Author

Caribbean Humpback Acoustic Monitoring Programme: 2016-2017 Report

In September 2016, the West Indies distinct population segment (DPS) of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae), was delisted under the US Endangered Species Act. This DPS covers all of the Caribbean breeding grounds. However, growing evidence suggests the West Indies DPS contains more than one breeding population. In response to these changes in the status of humpback whales and evidence supporting more than one breeding population in the West Indies, we formed the Caribbean Humpback Acoustic Monitoring Programme (CHAMP). This research program leverages and expands on networks already established in the Caribbean to promote and enhance collaborative research on the biology of humpback whales and establish a robust monitoring program, focusing first on passive acoustic monitoring. CHAMP is a multi-national program which includes researchers, government officials, non-governmental organizations, resource managers, and others in Aruba, Bonaire, the Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Saint Martin, and the United States.

Date
2017
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire

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

BioNews 1-2017 Dutch Caribbean Newsletter

A dedicated Saba Bank Symposium was organised by the University of Wageningen in December 2016. The Symposium was held in Den Helder and brought together researchers and conservationists from throughout the Kingdom to share their knowledge and to provide an overview of the current state of scientific knowledge about the Netherland’s largest and most remote National Park.

Among others, presentations were given on the following topics:

The Symposium ended with a panel discussion on the sustainable use of the Saba Bank and what is needed to protect the Saba Bank for the future.

We have done our best to capture the wealth of information presented at the symposium for you in our BioNews letter and hope, that like us, you are impressed by the depth and diversity of the work that has been done to explore and document our largest National Park: The Saba Bank.

To read this interactive Pdf, please make sure to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer. We recommend you to open BioNews in full screen.  In case you do not have this program, please click here to download. Feel free to email research@DCNAnature.org in case you experience any issues downloading the program so we can assist you.

BioNews is produced by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Date
2017
Data type
Media
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Saba bank

The Humpbacks are Back!

We have some wonderful news to share! The magnificent humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) have returned for their four-to five-month long stay in the waters of Saba, St. Eustatius and St. Maarten, which are located in a key humpback breeding area. After feeding in the cold Artic waters throughout summer, humpback whales migrate south to the Caribbean each winter to breed and give birth. They populate the waters of our windward islands each year from around January to May. Occasionally (sub- adult) Humpbacks are also spotted o the coast of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao, but much less frequently (Aruba Marine Mammal Foundation, STINAPA Bonaire, Southern Caribbean Cetacean Network Foundation). 

This news article was published in BioNews 22

BioNews is produced by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Date
2016
Data type
Media
Theme
Research and monitoring

Port Sampling as a cost-effective method to monitor cetaceans within the Caribbean Netherlands

Cetacean monitroing in the Dutch Caribbean

 

This news article was published in BioNews 17.

BioNews is produced by the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance and funded by the Ministry of Economic Affairs.

Date
2015
Data type
Media
Theme
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Bonaire
Saba
St. Eustatius

Humpback and minke whale acoustic presence with reference to fish sounds and ambient noise levels at Saba Bank, Caribbean Windward Dutch Islands

The Antillean Island chain is a known breeding and calving ground for North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). However, while most research efforts for this species have focused on the largest aggregation of whales, located on Silver Bank, off the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, there are still significant knowledge gaps with respect to humpback whale movements along the Antillean Island chain. Even less is known about the spatio-temporal distribution of other marine mammal and fish species in the region. This report summarizes analysis results of acoustic data (10- 8000 Hz effective analysis bandwidth recorded at a 25% duty cycle), recorded on the north east of Saba Bank from October 2011 to April 2012. The results show the consistent presence of humpback whales in the vicinity of Saba Bank during their winter breeding season, occasional presence of minke whales and the presence of sound producing fish assemblages. Humpback whale song occurred from the end of December to the end of the recording period in April. From February to April humpback whale song was recorded on more than 89 % of all recording days, though it occurred most frequently in March. All recording days in March showed song presence, with an average of 8.5 ± 2.8 (mean ± SE) hours of recorded song per day. In contrast, for minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) 48 pulse trains (n = 32) were detected less frequently between February to April 2012. A variety of unidentified fish sounds were present throughout the recordings. Although the occurrence of these sounds was not quantified, notable fish choruses (e.g. grouper spp. Epinephelinae) consisting of one to two distinct pulsed calls in the frequency range of 100 - 600 Hz were documented from October to December 2011 in particular. The results of this pilot project highlight the feasibility of using passive acoustic monitoring (PAM) to explore year-round marine mammal and fish presence and distribution in otherwise understudied and remote field sites. 

Date
2016
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
C067/16
Geographic location
Saba bank

Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary

The populations of sharks worldwide are in sharp decline and therefore in urgent need of protection from illegal fishing and fisheries by-catch.The establishment of this Sanctuary for sharks, as well as marine mammals, was at the request of the Governments of Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius.The local nature conservation and fisheries organizations are involved in the protection. The name of the Sanctuary “Yarari” is a Taíno Indian word, meaning ‘a fine place’.

Yarari sanctuary GIS data can be found at:

Date
2018
Data type
Maps and Charts
Theme
Legislation
Geographic location
Bonaire
Saba
St. Eustatius
Author

BioNews 11 - December 2013

This month’s issue focuses on the Audubon’s Shearwater. Despite its resounding and unique call, this threatened bird often goes unnoticed on our islands, coming to shore at night to nest in remote locations. On Saba and St. Eustatius efforts are underway to confirm the presence of breeding shearwaters and locate their nests utilising predictive GIS modelling.

In the surrounding waters of the ABC islands an aerial survey took place last month to monitor the presence, density and distribution of marine mammals. An observation team from IMARES covered almost the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the three islands, recording a number of marine mammal species as well as other megafauna.

Other content:

  • ‘Breaking News’: Lionfish Control Efforts are Working on Bonaire and Curaçao!
  • ‘Research of the Month‘: Aerial Marine Mammal Survey Around The Leeward Islands
  • Audubon’s Shearwater: “Things That Go Bump In The Night”
  • Overview of Research and Monitoring Efforts
  • Calendar of Upcoming Events, Meetings and Workshops
Date
2013
Data type
Media
Theme
Education and outreach
Research and monitoring
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao
Saba
Saba bank
St. Eustatius
St. Maarten
Author

Aerial surveys of marine mammals and other fauna around Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire, November 2013

Summary:

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. 

Date
2014
Data type
Research report
Theme
Research and monitoring
Report number
C012/14
Geographic location
Aruba
Bonaire
Curacao