Hold on to your flippers, folks! The seas are buzzing with exciting news. While marine mammal strandings have thankfully been absent lately, manatees are making a splash with their sightings around The Bahamas.
From Nassau to Great Harbour Cay, these gentle giants have been spotted by the public, and The Bahamas Marine Mammal Research Organization (BMMRO) is on the case. We’ve received lots of manatee sightings around Nassau in November 2022, as well as February and March 2023. As of March 2023 there are also four manatees in the Great Harbour Cay area (Figure 1). Not only are we tracking their movements, but we’re also educating our first responders to be better equipped to assist in the event of a stranding.
This month, BMMRO ran our 5th Marine Mammal Stranding Workshop at Dolphin Cay, Atlantis in Nassau for Bahamian Fisheries Officers (Figure 2). It was a great success, and we now have more educated first responders to assist in the case of a stranding. Thank you to the Department of Marine Resources, Dolphin Cay staff and The Atlantis Blue Project Foundation for helping to make this day happen!
Figure 2. (Top) Attendees of the 5th Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network Workshop at Dolphin Cay, Atlantis, Nassau, March 2023, and (Bottom left) attendees observing an anatomy demonstration by Dolphin Cay staff, and (Bottom right) some practical learning of how to care for a live-stranded animal.
BMMRO’s recent interns were also invited to attend the workshop to continue their education with regards to marine mammals (Figure 3).
Why report a stranding?
Strandings provide important information on the biology and health of marine mammals and, in turn, the health of our marine ecosystems. This includes basic information on the biology and ecology of marine mammal species, such as an animal’s age, the types of prey it consumes, and the occurrence of diseases within populations.
In partnership with the Bahamas Department of Marine Resources, Southeast U.S. Marine Mammal Stranding Network and Atlantis’ Dolphin Cay, BMMRO created The Bahamas Marine Mammal Stranding Network.
Over 70 trained participants and a dozen veterinarians from 15 Bahamian islands have been trained as stranding network members since 2008. When a stranding is reported, the network activates and the nearest network member will able to arrive quickly at the scene.
Training workshops for Bahamians are conducted on a regular basis. If you are interested in getting involved, please reach out directly to Dr. Charlotte Dunn at email@example.com for the latest updates and to learn more. And don’t forget to check out the BMMRO website; www.bahamaswhales.org
Written by Dr. Charlotte Dunn, President, BMMRO