Since our last Blog, we have not received any reports of marine mammal strandings in The Bahamas. We did however begin plans to update the Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network in the unfortunate event of a stranding. To this end, we hired Felice Knowles to act as the Bahamas Stranding Coordinator. Currently, she is working on locating all the stranding kits in The Bahamas and completing an inventory on each one. She will also be updating the contact list of the members of the stranding network. In addition, during each visit a brief refresher course on what to do in the case of a stranding will be given to those persons who have shown an interest in becoming active members of the stranding network. The location and inventory of the stranding kits for Long Island was completed as well as updating the Contact Tree for Long Island members of the Stranding Network. We will be continuing this work throughout the Bahamas with concrete plans of visiting the Berry Islands, Mayaguana, and Inagua later in March. In addition to these visits, the staff at BMMRO is in the process of planning our Stranding Workshop for Veterinarians to be held in Nassau.
BMMRO has taken an active role in encouraging community outreach because as an organisation, BMMRO realizes the importance of educating the public about The Bahamas’ marine resources. Currently, we are in the process of creating a manatee club on Facebook which will target school kids throughout The Bahamas. The club will educate the students on the occurrence of manatees in The Bahamas, manatee conservation, and how to assist with sighting reports. The group members will be given weekly tasks which will get them involved in conservation and give them a chance to assist with manatee research. Manatee sightings here in The Bahamas have been increasing as manatees have chosen some areas in The Bahamas to be their “home”, including Great Harbour Cay, Berry Islands; Spanish Wells, Eleuthera; and Cherokee, Abaco. In addition to these “hot spots,” manatees have been sighted traveling throughout The Bahamas from north to south. The manatees that have made The Bahamas their home have also been successfully reproducing here; one female “Gina” has been estimated to have given birth to at least three calves here in The Bahamas. This Facebook group will get young Bahamians all over The Bahamas involved in protecting our manatee population.