On their recent cetacean expedition in the southern Caribbean two individuals from Grenada participated in training and data collection; Kate Charles, Marine Biologist & Dr Kenrith Carter, Wildlife and Sea Turtle veterinarian, both WIDECAST country coordinators.
Cetaceans are highly migratory, and have wide-ranging habitats, often crossing international borders. Their distribution in the Caribbean spans multiple countries, making it crucial for these nations to work together to protect them. Despite the existence of organizations and individuals working on marine mammal conservation in different islands, there is currently no dedicated organization solely focused on cetacean conservation in the wider Caribbean region.
Furthermore, research on marine mammals, including cetaceans, is limited due to financial constraints and the challenging nature of fieldwork in the region. Insufficient data on the status of cetacean populations means that some species may already be in critical condition without our knowledge, preventing effective conservation actions.
Over the 15 day expedition 9 different species were observed with 3 being found here in Grenada, including a very rare, and potentially a first sighting of the Bryde Whale. During the expedition seabird species were also documented with 20 species observed.
CCS aims to address these challenges and bridge the gaps in connectivity and collaboration, and to fill the void and establish a permanent organization dedicated to cetacean conservation in the wider Caribbean region. By doing so, they seek to facilitate cooperation among territories, break down barriers imposed by borders, different laws, languages, and cultures, and create a united effort to protect cetaceans.
Jeff Bernus (CCS director) believes by promoting long-term collaboration, it will overcome the limitations of short-term projects and the reliance on external individuals who may not have a long-term vested interest in the region. His goal is to build capacity and institutional knowledge within the region to ensure sustained efforts for the conservation of cetaceans.
Kate Charles states this is an exciting time for sea turtle researchers and cetacean researchers to come together through their work, it can improve the understanding of cetaceans and sea turtles in the region, gather essential data, advocate for their protection, and ultimately contribute to the long-term conservation of these remarkable marine creatures in the wider Caribbean.
Dr Carter said that he was happy to be part of the expedition and he took the opportunity to learn more about monitoring whale and dolphin behavior. Documenting Sperm Whales in Grenadian waters was a high point for him, as well as his discovery of a nesting population of an undocumented Seabird in the region.
More can be learnt about CCS at https://www.ccs-ngo.com/
The Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS)