Sixth Caribbean marine expedition ‘Ti Whale An Nou 2022’ taking place this month

Saba / Sint Maarten

Organized by CCS with the support of WWF and DCNA

As of August 15th through August 30th, the sixth joint scientific expedition of the Ti Whale An Nou program for 2022 is taking place in the Caribbean Sea. Ti Whale An Nou means “our own little whales” in French Caribbean Creole. The expedition started in Martinique and covers a total of eleven Caribbean islands during this journey. The objective of the research expedition is to improve the conservation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) in the Lesser Antilles.

Humpback whale. Photo credit: Gabriel Dizzi

This expedition is organized by the Caribbean Cetacean Society (CCS) with the support of World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the Dutch Caribbean Nature Alliance (DCNA). Eleven participants representing WWF, DCNA and the Protected Area Management Organizations of the different islands are led by two cetacean experts of CCS during the two-week expedition. The team is traveling from Martinique to Anguilla and back, passing Dominica, Guadeloupe, Montserrat, St. Kitts and Nevis, Statia, Saba, St. Maarten, and St. Barts along the way.

The goals of the expedition are to obtain knowledge of the diversity and distribution of the various cetacean species and their relative abundance, as well as get to know more about the threats facing them. Most of these threats are caused by human activities and can include collisions with ships, entanglement in fishing gear, hunting, underwater noise pollution, harassment, and plastic pollution.

Photo credit: Richard Sagredo

The expedition will also focus on improving capacity building in the Caribbean by training the several representatives of the Protected Area Management Organizations to conduct marine mammal science. During the expedition several activities will be conducted such as acoustic recording and tracking of the species, visual surveys and photo identification. In addition, environmental data will be collected together with data on threats such as boat traffic. This is the sixth expedition of this year, thereby covering all the islands of the Lesser Antilles. The Ti Whale An Nou program started in 2021, making this the second year in a row in which a full monitoring of the region is done.

The importance of this expedition is rooted in the fact that whales have a huge value for the planet’s ecosystem. They capture four times more carbon dioxide than the amazon forest, and therefore they are an important tool in the fight against climate change. Data gathered during this expedition will assist in increasing knowledge on how to better protect these valuable marine mammals.

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