In its work program for the year 2022, the CCS rightly recalls that the Caribbean is one of the 35 “hotspots” of biodiversity in the world. ” According to the latest Action Plan for Marine Mammals of the Caribbean, at least 33 species of cetaceans have been documented in the region. That is more than a third of the world’s diversity (90 species in 2020) “, underlines the text. If the Greater Caribbean remains an essential habitat for the majority of them, for reproduction and food among other things, the fact remains that some populations are already in a critical state of conservation. But there is no scientific data for this.
And that’s where the CCS comes in. Created in 2020 by two marine biologists from Guadeloupe and Martinique, Laura Pittino and Jeffrey Bernus, based in the latter territory, the Caribbean Cetacean Society works across the Caribbean to improve the protection of cetaceans through international cooperation. It is to date the only organization dedicated to the conservation of marine mammals throughout the West Indies. It claims a network involving directors of international NGOs, researchers, conservation experts, government representatives and maritime professionals.
In 2021, the CCS inaugurated the “Ti Whale An Nou” program (“Our little whales to us”, editor’s note) in order to monitor the populations of cetaceans in the Lesser Antilles with a method allowing the results to be compared between all the islands. . ” The program has proven to be an excellent platform for training and improving the skills of local actors and for environmental education. “says the association. ” It is essential that we take local responsibility for safeguarding our heritage, which is also an important source of our blue economy. »
Throughout 2021, the Guadeloupe Region has been one of the partners of the “Ti Whale An Nou” program.
The 2022 program has set itself the same scientific objectives as in 2021, and in particular: ” Improve knowledge of the diversity, distribution, movements and relative densities of cetacean species in the Lesser Antilles; (…) contributing to the feeding of acoustic databases of the different species of cetaceans for better identification by artificial intelligence systems; and have a common protocol in all territories for long-term monitoring and inter-island comparisons. All this with non-invasive methods, using photo-identification and listening to the sounds emitted by cetaceans through passive acoustics.
Started in March, the project will run until September 2022 with a study area covering all the islands of the Lesser Antilles between Anguilla and Grenada, divided into three sub-regions: south, central and north. ” Subject to weather conditions, at least two expeditions of 15 days each will be organized in each sub-zone. A first between March and May and a second between June and August. This makes it possible to take into account the seasonality of the species. That is a total of at least six expeditions per year in the Lesser Antilles “, specifies the CCS.
The organization indicates that according to health restrictions, no landing should be made. From Martinique, its base, the research vessel will cross the waters of different countries without stopping there. The crew is made up of a captain, a mission leader, two biologists and volunteers. In addition, cooperation missions, training and educational outings with children will be organized. In its programme, the CCS is also keen to ” allow the skills of West Indians to increase; increase the attractiveness of our region through the preservation of our blue economy; and promote the involvement of young people and women in the field “.
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Environment and Cooperation: The 2022 program of the Cetacean Conservation Network in the Caribbean launched from Martinique
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