ArticlePDF Available

Odontocete sightings collected during offshore cruises in the western and southwestern Caribbean Sea

Authors:
  • CONACYT - Ensenada Center for Scientific Research and Higher Education
  • COMISIÓN COLOMBIANA DEL OCÉANO
  • Fundación Omacha
Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 57-62, December 2009 ISSN 1676-7497
1 Received on 11 April 2010. Acepted on 2 June 2010. Managed by Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse.
2 Centro de Investigación Científica y de Educación Superior de Ensenada (CICESE) - Unidad La Paz, Miraflores 334, La Paz, BCS
23050, México.
3 Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales, Carrera 2 No. 11-68, El Rodadero, Santa Marta, Colombia.
4 Current address: Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e Hidrográficas (CIOH), Área de Oceanografía Operacional, Escuela
Naval de Cadetes ‘Almirante Padilla’, Barrio El Bosque, Sector Manzanillo, Cartagena, Colombia.
5 Universidad UNILASALLE-Manaus, Rua Ajuriaca, 361, Bairro Aleixo, 69.083-020, Manaus, AM, Brasil.
6 Fundación Omacha, Calle 86A No. 23-38, Bogotá DC, Colombia.
7 Ocean Alliance, 191 Weston Road, Lincoln, MA 01773, USA.
8 Joint Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, University of Hawaii, 1000 Pope Road, MSB 312, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA.
9 NOAA, NMFS, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Environmental Research Division, 1352 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA
93950-2097, USA.
* Corresponding author, e-mail: Daniel.Palacios@noaa.gov.
10 Torres, F., Obregón, C. and Trujillo, F. (1988) Expedición Siben en costas colombianas. Interpolar Research Society and Long-term
Research Institute, Lincoln, MA, USA. Unpublished report. 12p. [Available from the authors].
11 Beltrán-Pedreros, S. (1990) Avistamiento de mamíferos marinos en el Caribe Colombiano, área de San Andrés, Providencia y Los Cayos.
Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e Hidrológicas, Cartagena, Colombia. Unpublished report. 10pp. [Available from the authors].
ODONTOCETE SIGHTINGS COLLECTED DURING OFFSHORE CRUISES
IN THE WESTERN AND SOUTHWESTERN CARIBBEAN SEA1
MARIO A. PARDO2, ANGÉLICA MEJÍA-FAJARDO3,4, SANDRA BELTRÁN-PEDREROS5,
FERNANDO TRUJILLO6, IAIN KERR7 AND DANIEL M. PALACIOS8,9, *
While the cetacean fauna of the eastern Caribbean Sea
(i.e. the Greater Antilles, the Lesser Antilles and
Venezuela) is reasonably well known (e.g. Erdman et
al., 1973; Taruski and Winn, 1976; Mignucci-Gianonni,
1998; Romero et al., 2001; 2002; Swartz et al., 2003;
Acevedo-Galindo, 2007), portions of the western and
southwestern regions remain virtually unexplored.
Here we present 14 odontocete sightings made
during four offshore cruises in Colombian and
Panamanian waters spanning the period 1988-2008.
Observations of the spinner dolphin (Stenella
longirostris), the false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens)
and the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) are the first
for these areas.
Two cruises over continental shelf and slope waters
of the southwestern Caribbean were conducted in
1988 and 1994 through a collaboration between
American and Colombian organizations. The purpose
of these cruises was to provide training in cetacean
research techniques to local scientists, with a focus
on sperm whale acoustic tracking using towed
hydrophone arrays. The two cruises employed similar
vessels (sailboats) and followed similar routes. The
Caribbean leg of the ‘Expedición Siben’ took place
between 12-15 May 1988 aboard the 27m R/V Siben,
covering 698.7km between Cartagena, Colombia, and
Colón, Panamá (Torres et al., 198810; Figure 1c). The
second cruise took place between 23-28 April 1994
aboard the 28m R/V Odyssey, covering 462.4km along
the route Colón-Cartagena (Figure 1c). On both
cruises, two observers maintained visual watches
during daylight hours (07:00-18:00h, weather
permitting), using the naked eye or hand-held
binoculars. On the Siben the observation was
conducted from the bow and the stern (3-4m above
the waterline), while on the Odyssey observers were
positioned atop the ship’s pilothouse (4m above the
waterline) and in the crow’s nest on the main mast
(18m above the waterline). Whenever possible,
cetacean groups were approached to confirm species
identification and group size, either by the sailing
vessel or using auxiliary inflatable boats.
The other two cruises were organized by the Dirección
General Marítima de Colombia (DIMAR), through its
Centro de Investigaciones Oceanográficas e
Hidrográficas (CIOH) aboard the 50.9m R/V Malpelo.
The CIOH conducts oceanographic surveys in
Colombian waters on a regular basis, and for these
cruises it invited marine mammal biologists to use the
vessel as a platform of opportunity. One took place in
waters of the San Andrés, Providencia and the Cays
Archipelago, western Caribbean, between 6-13 August
1990. Its objective was to carry out a hydroacoustic
assessment in waters of the archipelago using a fisheries
echosounder along a predetermined 1607.2km track
(Beltrán-Pedreros, 199011; Figure 1b). During daylight
hours (06:00-19:00h), one observer searched for
cetaceans from the ship’s flying bridge 10m above the
waterline with the aid of hand-held binoculars. Since
sightings were not closed on, only cetacean groups that
occurred near the ship could be identified and counted.
The other cruise was carried out off the central
Colombian coast between 10-25 August 2008. Its main
purpose was to collect oceanographic and biochemical
data along the groundtrack of the altimetric satellite
JASON-1 (Figure 1d). Searching for cetaceans was
conducted from Malpelo’s flying bridge by three
observers who looked toward the bow, port and
starboard sectors, respectively (Mejía-Fajardo, 2009).
Due to logistical constraints, search effort was divided
into 20min intervals, alternating between on and off
periods (Figure 1d).
e-ISSN 2236-1057 - doi:10.5597/lajam00135
http://dx.doi.org/10.5597/lajam00135
58 M.A.PARDO et al.
Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 57-62, December 2009
Figure 1. (a) Map of the Caribbean Sea showing the areas where the cruises took place. Insets: tracks and cetacean sightings in the
western and southwestern Caribbean during the (b) Malpelo-1990, (c) Siben-1988 and Odyssey-1994, and (d) Malpelo-2008 cruises,
respectively. Sighting locations are shown as circles with numbers corresponding to those in Table 1. The limits of the Colombian and
Panamanian Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) (source: VLIZ, 200912; striped lines) and selected bathymetric contours (source:
SRTM30_PLUS global topography v.6.0, available from <http://topex.ucsd.edu/>) are also shown.
12 VLIZ (2009) Maritime Boundaries Geodatabase - World EEZ Version 5.0. Flanders Marine Institute. [Available online from the
Flanders Marine Institute, Ostend, Belgium, <http://www.vliz.be/vmdcdata/marbound>, consulted on 8 October 2009].
ODONTOCETE SIGHTINGS IN THE W AND SW CARIBBEAN SEA 59
Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 57-62, December 2009
Fourteen sightings of six odontocete species were
collected during the four cruises: Atlantic spotted
dolphins (Stenella frontalis), pantropical spotted dolphins
(Stenella attenuata), common bottlenose dolphins
(Tursiops truncatus), spinner dolphins (Stenella
longirostris), false killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and
sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) (Table 1). A
medium-sized group (30-40 animals) of spinner
dolphins was sighted during the Siben cruise in May
1988 in Panamanian waters. The sighting occurred at
a depth of 548m over the continental slope (Table 1,
Figure 1). The species is known from several sightings
and strandings in the eastern Caribbean around
Curaçao, Puerto Rico, St. Vincent, the Virgin Banks,
Dominica, St. Lucia, and Venezuela (Caldwell et al., 1971;
Erdman et al., 1973; Taruski and Winn, 1976; Jefferson
and Lynn, 1994; Romero et al., 2001; 2002), but this one
is the first record for the southwestern Caribbean.
Two sperm whale sightings were made during these
cruises: the first one was a group of ten individuals in
441m water near San Andrés Island, during the Malpelo
cruise in August 1990, while the second one was a group
of eight individuals, including two calves, in Panamanian
waters during the Odyssey cruise in April 1994. This group
occurred near the Colombian border over a submarine
ridge in 1578m waters (Table 1, Figure 1c). A photograph
of an animal’s fluke was taken and submitted to the North
Atlantic and Mediterranean Sperm Whale Catalogue
(NAMSC, catalogue numbers: WCI-1994-376-14, WCI-
1994-376-15, and WCI-1994-376-16) (Figure 2). Sperm
whales were also heard on the Siben’s hydrophones off
Barranquilla, prior to the ship’s arrival to Cartagena.
These are the first records of the species in the western
and southwestern Caribbean and it is uncertain whether
these animals belong to either of the better-known
populations of the eastern Caribbean (Gordon et al., 1998;
Gero et al., 2007) or the Gulf of Mexico (Weller et al., 2000),
or whether they are their own entity (no matches were
found with the NAMSC).
False killer whales were sighted during the Malpelo cruise
in August 1990 close to Serrana Cay, to the northeast of
Providencia Island, in 798m water (Table 1, Figure 1).
This is the first record of the species for Colombian waters
and for the western Caribbean. Three subsequent
sightings have been recently reported along the
continental coast near Santa Marta and in the Tayrona
National Natural Park (Fraija et al., 2009), and a stranding
of a single animal occurred in the nearby Santuario de
Fauna y Flora Los Flamencos in June 2001 (Pardo et al., 2009).
The species is better known from the eastern Caribbean,
where it prefers deep waters around oceanic islands
(Mignucci-Gianonni, 1998). In the Gulf of Mexico it has
Table 1. Cetacean sighting information collected during the Siben, Malpelo, and Odyssey cruises in the western and southwestern
Caribbean between 1988 and 2008.
(*) Sighting numbers correspond to those inside circles in Figure 1.
(**) Source: SRTM30_PLUS global topography v.6.0, [Available from <http://topex.ucsd.edu/ >.
GROUP SIZE POSITION SIGHTING* SPECIES
Min. Max. Longitude Latitude
DEPTH (m)** DATE
R/V Siben: 698.65km
1
Stenella frontalis 12 17 76º06’00”W 10º12’00”N 1234 12/5/1988
2
Tursiops truncatus 3 3 77º25’12”W 9º03’36”N 1241 15/5/1988
3
Stenella longirostris 30 40 77º25’12”W 56’02”N 548 15/5/1988
R/V Malpelo: 1607.20km
4 Stenella attenuata 300 400 79º12’00”W 15º25’30”N 2283 6/8/1990
5 Pseudorca crassidens 3 4 80º30’00”W 14º12’00”N 798 7/8/1990
6 Tursiops truncatus 35 40 40º81’00”W 14º52’00”N 436 9/8/1990
7 Physeter macrocephalus 10 10 81º42’00”W 12º39’00”N 441 11/8/1990
R/V Odyssey: 462.39km
8
Physeter macrocephalus 8 8 77º30’00”W 9º30’00”N 1578 27/4/1994
9
Tursiops truncatus 2 2 75º45’00”W 10º18’26”N 161 28/4/1994
R/V Malpelo: 318.47km (effective effort)
10 Stenella frontalis 10 20 74º17’14” 12º00’14” 2162 11/8/2008
11 Unidentified dolphin 7 11 73º24’21” 14º40’15” 2208 12/8/2008
12 Tursiops truncatus 4 6 75º37’32” 10º24’13” 96 15/8/2008
13 Unidentified dolphin 1 1 73º38’16” 13º50’33” 4002 23/8/2008
14 Tursiops truncatus 45 50 75º32’46” 10º59’12” 1029 25/8/2008
60 M.A.PARDO et al.
Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 57-62, December 2009
been recorded mainly in summer, in groups ranging from
1 to 35 animals and in waters ranging in depth from 974
to 1091m (Jefferson, 1996; Mullin et al., 2004).
A medium-sized group (12-17 individuals) of Atlantic
spotted dolphins was sighted near Cartagena during the
Siben cruise in May 1988. The group occurred over a
narrow slope in 1234m waters (Figure 1c). A similarly
sized group was sighted aboard R/V Malpelo in August
2008, to the north of Santa Marta, over the continental
slope at a depth of 2162m (Table 1, Figure 1b). This is
one of the most frequently seen species in the Caribbean
Sea (Perrin, 2002), inhabiting shallow coastal waters and
the vicinity of oceanic islands (e.g. Jefferson and Lynn,
1994). It is also common throughout the continental coast
of Colombia, often found in groups of 1-30 individuals
(Pardo and Palacios, 2006).
A large group (300-400 animals) of pantropical
spotted dolphins was sighted during the Malpelo
cruise in August 1990 in oceanic waters of the western
Caribbean, within the Colombia-Jamaica Joint
Regime. The depth of this sighting (2283m) was the
greatest among all sightings collected during the four
cruises (Table 1, Figure 1), and the size of this group
is among the largest for the Caribbean Sea, since the
average is around 34.8 individuals (Mignucci-
Giannoni et al., 2003). Although there are only four
previous records of the species for the Colombian
Caribbean (Vidal, 1990; Jefferson and Lynn, 1994;
Pardo and Palacios, 2006), it has been reported both
in the eastern and western Caribbean (Jefferson and
Lynn, 1994). In coastal waters off Venezuela and
Colombia the groups are small (2-3 individuals)
(Romero et al., 2001; Pardo and Palacios, 2006).
The common bottlenose dolphin was sighted during all
four cruises in small- to medium-sized groups of 2-50
animals. Locations included: near Cartagena, in
Panamanian waters near the Colombian border, north
of the San Andrés, Providencia and the Cays
Archipelago, and off the central Colombian coast. The
sightings occurred in depths ranging between 161 and
1241m (Table 1, Figure 1). This species is commonly
reported along the Colombian coast in groups of 2-20
individuals (Vidal, 1990; Flórez-González and Capella-
Alzueta, 1995; Pardo and Palacios, 2006), and
throughout the Caribbean Sea (Grigg and Markowitz,
1997; Kerr et al., 2005; Romero et al., 2001). Off the central
coast of Venezuela groups average 14.7 and range from
4-30 individuals (Bolaños-Jiménez et al., 200713).
This note documents some of the earliest (as well as more
recent) efforts to conduct marine mammal research in
the Colombian Caribbean, a region that has not received
much attention from the scientific community. The
cruises presented here were exploratory in nature and
were not designed as surveys for estimating abundance.
Except for the Malpelo cruise in 2008, important
information such as the time of start and end of the
observation periods, the sea state and weather
conditions, and the segments of track covered at
nighttime was not recorded or is missing. Nevertheless,
the sighting data collected during the cruises has proved
to be valuable for documenting species occurrence in
the western and southwestern portions of the Caribbean,
where minimal or no information is available (Ward et
al., 2001). Further, these cruises have provided invaluable
Figure 2. Photographs of a sperm whale sighting taken during the Odyssey cruise in 1994. (a) The distinctive fluke of one of the
individuals in the group (NAMSC catalog number WCI-1994-376-15). (b) An adult-calf pair.
13 Bolaños-Jiménez, J., Villarroel-Marín, A., Parsons, E.C.M., and Rose, N.A. (2007) Origin and development of whalewatching in the
state of Aragua, Venezuela: Laying the groundwork for sustainability. Page 16-27 in Proceedings, 5th International Coastal & Marine
Tourism Congress, 11-15 September 2007, Auckland, New Zealand.
ODONTOCETE SIGHTINGS IN THE W AND SW CARIBBEAN SEA 61
Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 57-62, December 2009
opportunities for national capacity building. In recent
years DIMAR has become interested in incorporating a
marine mammal component in its cruises: since 2004 it
has regularly invited marine mammal observers on its
biannual cruises in Pacific waters of Colombia (Herrera-
Carmona, 2009; Palacios et al., submitted), and efforts
to implement standardized data collection protocols on
its Caribbean cruises are underway. Thus, future
surveys will provide the necessary information for
abundance estimation, population structure and
management actions, all of which have been identified
as research priorities at the national level (Flórez-
González and Capella-Alzueta, 1995), as well as in the
Action Plan for the Conservation of Marine Mammals
in the Wider Caribbean Region (UNEP, 2008).
Acknowledgements
The American institution sponsoring the Siben and
Odyssey expeditions in Colombian waters was the non-
profit Long-term Research Institute, now operating as
the Ocean Alliance (Lincoln, MA). Its Colombian
counterparts were the Grupo para las Investigaciones
Submarinas (Cartagena) and the group Seguimiento
de Corazón de Ballenas Vía Satélite (Bogotá). The
catalysts of these expeditions were R. Payne, I. Kerr, J.
Reynolds, A. Vélez-Sierra, J.S. Uribe, A. Vejarano, M.
Obregón, and F. Ospina-Navia. Participants for
Colombia included D.F. Torres, C. Obregon, F. Trujillo,
P.L.R. Brennan and D.M. Palacios. We thank the other
scientists on board and the office support staff,
including T. Lyrholm, L. Galley, B.J. Brennan, and K.
Marshall-Tilas. Participants in the R/V Malpelo cruises
were S. Beltrán-Pedreros (1990, by invitation from
CIOH Navy Captain J. Aguilera) and A. Mejía-Fajardo
(2008). Logistic and financial support for the cruises
was provided by the Interpolar Research Society,
DIMAR/CIOH, and the Universidad Jorge Tadeo
Lozano - Seccional Cartagena. M.A. Pardo was
supported during the preparation of this manuscript
by a grant from the Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y
Tecnología (Ciencia Básica 2009 No. 691211 to E. Beier
at CICESE) and by a Grant in Aid of Research from the
Society for Marine Mammalogy. Comments from J.
Bolaños-Jiménez and an anonymous referee helped
improve an earlier version of this manuscript.
References
ACEVEDO-GALINDO, R. (2007) Potential geographical distribution
of seven species of marine cetaceans reported in Venezuela,
southeast Caribbean. Acta Zoológica Sinica 53: 853-864.
CALDWELL, D.K., CALDWELL, M.C., RATHJEN, W.F. AND SULLIVAN,
J.R. (1971) Cetaceans from the Lesser Antillean Island of St.
Vincent. Fishery Bulletin 69(2): 303-312.
ERDMAN, D.S., HARMS, J. AND FLORES, M.M. (1973) Cetacean
records from the northeastern Caribbean region. Cetology
17: 1-14.
FLÓREZ-GONZÁLEZ, L. AND C APELLA-ALZUETA, J. (1995) Mamíferos
acuáticos de Colombia. Una revisión y nuevas observaciones
sobre su presencia, estado del conocimiento y conservación.
Informe del Museo del Mar (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano,
Bogotá Colombia) 39: 1-29.
FRAIJA, N., FLÓREZ-GONZÁLEZ, L. AND JÁUREGUI, A. (2009)
Cetacean occurrence in the Santa Marta region, Colombian
Caribbean, February-May 2007. Latin American Journal of
Aquatic Mammals 7(1-2): 69-73.
GERO, S., GORDON, J., CARLSON, C., EVANS, P. AND WHITEHEAD, H.
(2007) Population estimate and inter-island movement of
sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus, in the eastern Caribbean
Sea. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management 9(2): 143-150.
GORDON, J., MOSCROP, A., CARLSON, C., INGRAM, S., LEAPER, R.,
MATTHEWS, J. AND YOUNG, K. (1998) Distribution, movements
and residency of sperm whales off the commonwealth of
Dominica, eastern Caribbean: Implications for the
development and regulation of the local whalewatching
industry. Report of the International Whaling Commission 48.
SC/49/O. [Available from the International Fund for Animal
Welfare, Yarmouth Port, MA, USA, <http://www.ifaw.org/
Publications/Program_Publications/Whales/
asset_upload_file215_14458.pdf>].
GRIGG, E. AND MARKOWITZ, H. (1997) Habitat use by bottlenose
dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) at Turneffe Atoll, Belize. Aquatic
Mammals 23(3): 163-170.
JEFFERSON, T.A. (1996) Estimates of abundance of cetaceans in
offshore waters of the northeastern Gulf of Mexico. The
Southwestern Naturalist 41(3): 279-287.
JEFFERSON, T.A. AND L YNN, S.K. (1994) Marine mammal sightings
in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico, Summer 1991.
Caribbean Journal of Science 30(1-2): 83-89.
KERR, A.K., DEFRAN, R.H. AND CAMPBELL, G.S. (2005) Bottlenose
dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Drowned Cayes, Belize:
Group size, side fidelity and abundance. Caribbean Journal of
Science 41(1): 172-177.
HERRERA-CARMONA, J.C. (2009) Distribución y abundancia relativa
de cetáceos en el Pacífico colombiano y su relación con las condiciones
oceanográficas. M.Sc. Thesis. Universidad del Valle, Cali,
Colombia. 150 pp.
MEJÍA-FAJARDO, A. (2009) Relación de la presencia de cetáceos
sobre la huella del satélite Jason-1 en el Caribe colombiano con
las condiciones oceanográficas imperantes durante el segundo
periodo de 2008. M.Sc. Thesis. Universidad Jorge Tadeo
Lozano, Facultad de Ciencias Naturales. Santa Marta,
Colombia. 179pp.
MIGNUCCI-GIANNONI, A.A. (1998) Zoogeography of cetaceans
off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Caribbean Journal of
Science 34(3-4): 173-190.
MIGNUCCI-GIANNONI, A.A., SWARTZ, S.L., MARTÍNEZ, A., BURKS,
C.M. AND WATKINS, W.A. (2003) First records of the pantropical
spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) for the Puerto Rican Bank,
with a review of the species in the Caribbean. Caribbean Journal
of Science 39(3): 381-392.
MULLIN, K.D., HOGGARD, W. AND H ANSEN, L.J. (2004) Abundance
and seasonal occurrence of cetaceans in outer continental shelf
slope waters of the north-central and northwestern Gulf of
Mexico. Gulf of Mexico Science 1: 62-73.
62 M.A.PARDO et al.
Lat. Am. J. Aquat. Mamm. 7(1-2): 57-62, December 2009
PALACIOS, D.M., GERRODETTE, T., HERRERA, J.C., GARCÍA, C., SOLER,
G.A., ÁVILA I.C., BESSUDO, S., HERNÁNDEZ, E., TRUJILLO F., FLÓREZ-
GONZÁLEZ, L. AND KERR, I. (Submitted) Cetacean distribution
and relative abundance in Colombia’s Pacific EEZ from survey
cruises and platforms of opportunity. Journal of Cetacean
Research and Management.
PARDO, M.A. AND PALACIOS, D.M. (2006) Cetacean occurrence
in the Santa Marta region, Colombian Caribbean, 2004-2005.
Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 5(2): 129-134.
PARDO, M.A., JIMÉNEZ-PINEDO, C. AND PALACIOS, D.M. (2009) The
false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) in the southwestern
Caribbean: First stranding record in Colombian waters. Latin
American Journal of Aquatic Mammals 7(1-2): 63-67.
PERRIN, W.F. (2002) Stenella frontalis. Mammalian Species 702: 1-6.
ROMERO, A., AGUDO, A.I., GREEN, S.M. AND NOTARBARTOLO-DI-
SCIARA, G. (2001) Cetaceans of Venezuela: Their distribution
and conservation status. National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration Technical Report National Marine Fisheries Service
151: 59pp. [Available from the NMFS Scientific Pulbication
Office, <http://spo.nwr.noaa.gov/trlist.htm>].
ROMERO, A., HAYFORD, K.T., ROMERO, A. AND ROMERO, J. (2002)
The marine mammals of Grenada, W.I., and their conservation
status. Mammalia 66(4): 479-494.
SWARTZ, S.L., COLE, T., MCDONALD, M.A., HILDEBRAND, J.A., OLESON,
E.M., MARTINEZ, A., CLAPHAM, P.J., BARLOW, J. AND J ONES, M.L. (2003)
Acoustic and visual survey of Humpback Whale (Megaptera
novaeangliae) distribution in the eastern and Southeastern
Caribbean Sea. Caribbean Journal of Science 39(2): 195-208.
TARUSKI, A.G. AND WINN, W.H. (1976). Winter sightings of
odontocetes in the West Indies. Cetology 22: 1-12.
UNEP (2008) Action plan for the conservation of marine
mammals (MMAP) in the wider Caribbean region. United
Nations. 39pp. [Available from <http://www.cep.unep.org/>].
VIDAL, O. (1990) Lista de los mamíferos acuáticos de Colombia.
Informe del Museo del Mar (Universidad Jorge Tadeo Lozano,
Bogotá, Colombia) 37: 1-18.
WARD, N., MOSCROP, A. AND CARLSON, C. (2001) Elements for
the development of a marine mammal action plan for the
wider Caribbean: A review of marine mammal distribution.
United Nations Environment Programme - First Meeting of the
Contracting Parties (COP) to the Protocol Concerning Specially
Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) in the Wider Caribbean
Region 24-25 September, Havana, Cuba. 84pp. [Available
from the United Nations Environmental Programme,
Caribbean Environmental Programme <http://
www.cep.unep.org/>].
WELLER, D.W., WÜRSIG, B., LYNN, S.K. AND SCHIRO, A.J. (2000)
Preliminary findings on the occurrence and site fidelity of
photo-identified sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the
northern Gulf of Mexico. Gulf of Mexico Science 18:35-39.
... The pantropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuata) and the spinner dolphin (S. longirostris) are more widely distributed in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans (Jefferson et al., 2008), and appear to have similar patterns of habitat use that favor their presence over deeper waters (Davis et al., 1998(Davis et al., , 2002Baumgartner et al., 2001;do Amaral et al., 2015). Although these three species have been previously reported in the Caribbean Basin (e.g., Caldwell et al., 1971;Mignucci-Giannoni, 1998;Pardo et al., 2009;Palacios et al., 2013b;Niño-Torres et al., 2015;Ramos et al., 2016), little is known about their habitat preferences and spatial distribution in coastal or oceanic areas. Hence, it is important to identify areas where these species are likely to be found in order to direct research and improve management measures. ...
... Particularly in Colombia's Caribbean Sea, cetacean research has been limited, with most studies focusing on specific coastal mainland locations, including Santa Marta (Pardo and Palacios, 2006;Fraija et al., 2009;Pardo et al., 2009), Bay of Cispatá (García and Trujillo, 2004), Gulf of Morrosquillo (Palacios et al., 2013b), and La Guajira (Combatt and González, 2007;Palacios et al., 2012;Farías-Curtidor et al., 2017). To date, almost no research effort has been conducted in the remote oceanic region surrounding the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (Pardo et al., 2009;Palacios et al., 2013b). ...
... Particularly in Colombia's Caribbean Sea, cetacean research has been limited, with most studies focusing on specific coastal mainland locations, including Santa Marta (Pardo and Palacios, 2006;Fraija et al., 2009;Pardo et al., 2009), Bay of Cispatá (García and Trujillo, 2004), Gulf of Morrosquillo (Palacios et al., 2013b), and La Guajira (Combatt and González, 2007;Palacios et al., 2012;Farías-Curtidor et al., 2017). To date, almost no research effort has been conducted in the remote oceanic region surrounding the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (Pardo et al., 2009;Palacios et al., 2013b). Located in this region, the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve (SFBR) is one of the largest marine reserves in the western hemisphere, containing the most extensive open-ocean coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea (Mow et al., 2007;Coralina-Invemar, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Population structure studies play an increasingly integral role in conservation and management of marine mammal species. Genetic markers are commonly used; however, ecological markers (i.e. chemical compounds) are a fairly recent and useful tool to investigate ecological management units. The objective of this study is to investigate the population structure of the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) within its distribution in the Atlantic Ocean using data from stable isotopes of δ¹³C and δ¹⁵N and persistent organic pollutants as ecological markers. Based on previous studies that addressed distribution, morphometric analyses and molecular and ecological markers, we hypothesize that there are several ecological management units within the Atlantic Ocean. Our results confirmed population differentiation previously detected using genetic markers. Additionally, dolphins from the south-eastern coast of Brazil do not show complete ecological segregation from the Caribbean ones, while molecular analyses suggested genetic differentiation between the two regions. In the light of these results, we propose that at least two ecological management units should be considered, east and west of the Atlantic Ocean; however, the presence of one or two management units along the Atlantic coast of Central and South America needs further investigation.
... The pantropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuata) and the spinner dolphin (S. longirostris) are more widely distributed in the Atlantic, Indian, and Pacific Oceans (Jefferson et al., 2008), and appear to have similar patterns of habitat use that favor their presence over deeper waters (Davis et al., 1998(Davis et al., , 2002Baumgartner et al., 2001;do Amaral et al., 2015). Although these three species have been previously reported in the Caribbean Basin (e.g., Caldwell et al., 1971;Mignucci-Giannoni, 1998;Pardo et al., 2009;Palacios et al., 2013b;Niño-Torres et al., 2015;Ramos et al., 2016), little is known about their habitat preferences and spatial distribution in coastal or oceanic areas. Hence, it is important to identify areas where these species are likely to be found in order to direct research and improve management measures. ...
... Particularly in Colombia's Caribbean Sea, cetacean research has been limited, with most studies focusing on specific coastal mainland locations, including Santa Marta (Pardo and Palacios, 2006;Fraija et al., 2009;Pardo et al., 2009), Bay of Cispatá (García and Trujillo, 2004), Gulf of Morrosquillo (Palacios et al., 2013b), and La Guajira (Combatt and González, 2007;Palacios et al., 2012;Farías-Curtidor et al., 2017). To date, almost no research effort has been conducted in the remote oceanic region surrounding the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (Pardo et al., 2009;Palacios et al., 2013b). ...
... Particularly in Colombia's Caribbean Sea, cetacean research has been limited, with most studies focusing on specific coastal mainland locations, including Santa Marta (Pardo and Palacios, 2006;Fraija et al., 2009;Pardo et al., 2009), Bay of Cispatá (García and Trujillo, 2004), Gulf of Morrosquillo (Palacios et al., 2013b), and La Guajira (Combatt and González, 2007;Palacios et al., 2012;Farías-Curtidor et al., 2017). To date, almost no research effort has been conducted in the remote oceanic region surrounding the Archipelago of San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina (Pardo et al., 2009;Palacios et al., 2013b). Located in this region, the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve (SFBR) is one of the largest marine reserves in the western hemisphere, containing the most extensive open-ocean coral reefs in the Caribbean Sea (Mow et al., 2007;Coralina-Invemar, 2012). ...
Article
Full-text available
Dolphins of the genus Stenella occur in pelagic waters of both tropical and warm-temperate oceans. Three species, the Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis), the pantropical spotted dolphin (S. attenuata), and the spinner dolphin (S. longirostris) are abundant worldwide, but in the Caribbean Basin they have been poorly studied and information on their distribution patterns is scarce. Specifically, in Colombia's remote Seaflower Biosphere Reserve (SFBR) S. attenuata has been reported occasionally, but S. frontalis and S. longirostris have never been recorded before. To address this information gap, an ecological niche modeling approach was used to determine the potential distribution patterns of these three dolphin species in the region. Records of these species for the Caribbean Basin were compiled, including both published and unpublished data. Environmental information, including bathymetry, bathymetric slope, distance to shore, sea surface temperature, sea surface salinity, and chlorophyll-a concentration was gathered from public databases (MARSPEC and Bio-ORACLE) in raster format. The maximum entropy algorithm (Maxent) for modeling species' geographic distributions with presence-only data was used. After filtering the data, 210 records of S. attenuata, 204 of S. frontalis, and 80 of S. longirostris were used to run models. The best configuration for each model was chosen based on the ΔAICc criterion. For all three species, the final ecological niche models returned AUC test values higher than 0.8, indicating satisfactory model performance. The resulting potential distribution maps suggested that areas closest to continental shorelines of the Caribbean Basin and surrounding islands had the highest environmental suitability for all species (>70%). All models reported high environmental suitability for S. attenuata and S. longirostris in the SFBR, mainly in the southernmost part surrounding San Andrés and Providence Archipelago. Assessment of niche overlap from the predictions of species distributions using the similarity statistic and pairwise map overlap indicated that S. frontalis and S. longirostris had niches slightly more similar than in comparison to S. attenuata. As this was a first effort to fill a gap in our understanding of the distribution of species in the genus Stenella in the Caribbean Basin, further studies are necessary using both niche modeling and biological/ecological approaches.
... En la primera región se ha generado información por más de 30 años, acerca de la distribución, estimación poblacional, y ecología del movimiento y uso de hábitat y abundancia (Holguín et ál., 2005). Así mismo, con el apoyo de la Fundación Omacha, Conservación Internacional, la Corporación Autónoma Regional de los Valles del Sinú y del San Jorge -CVS y el Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, se dio inicio a un programa de liberación de manatíes que se encontraban en semicautiverio en el departamento de Córdoba como parte del Plan de manejo y conservación formulado por la Corporación entre el 2003 y 2004 (CVS & Fundación Omacha, 2004, 2006, 2009 al 2019) y para el 2002, la Corporación Autónoma Regional del Dique -Cardique, formuló el Plan Estratégico de conservación del manatí, actualizado en 2019. En el Magdalena Medio, particularmente en la ciénaga Paredes en Santander, se ha generado información sobre el estado de conservación de los manatíes, y se han adelantado procesos de conservación con las comunidades locales por parte de investigadores de la Fundación Cabildo Verde Sabana de Torres (Arévalo-González et ál., 2014). ...
Book
Full-text available
Trujillo, F., Caicedo, D., Diazgranados, M.C. & I.C. Avila. (2022). Plan de Acción Nacional para la Conservación de los Mamíferos Acuáticos de Colombia 2022-2035. In: Avello-Castiblanco, G.C., González-Delgadillo, A.M., Quintero-Gil, J.A. (Eds.) Ministerio de Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible, Bogotá, DC. Colombia. 96p. ISBN: 978-958-5551-82-4.
... Boat-based surveys are an effective way to evaluate the presence of marine mammal species in a region (Mullin & Fulling, 2004), and are useful for baseline estimates of their relative abundance and distribution (Dawson et al., 2004). Sightings of marine mammals obtained during dedicated or opportunistic boat-based surveys at the northern (Roden & Mullin, 2000), western (Pardo et al., 2009), eastern (Gero & Whitehead, 2006), southwestern (Farías-Curtidor et al., 2017) and southeastern (Smultea et al., 2013) Caribbean Sea, suggest marine mammal diversity, abundance, and distribution can vary dramatically throughout the basin. Dedicated monitoring of marine mammals provides data necessary to study the distribution patterns and trends in relative abundance species, and provide relevant baseline data to inform management decisions (e.g. ...
Article
Full-text available
Baseline data on the distribution and occurrence of marine mammals are needed to better understand their role in marine ecosystems and to protect them from the negative impacts of climate change and human activity. Here, we report the results of vessel-based surveys to document marine mammals throughout the territorial waters of Belize in the Western Caribbean Sea. In 2016 and 2017, 543 km of transects (85 h of survey effort) aboard a 14-m catamaran resulted in 17 sightings of four species of marine mammal: inshore and offshore bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus, Atlantic spotted dolphins Stenella frontalis, pantropical spotted dolphins Stenella attenuata, and Antillean manatees Trichechus manatus manatus. Coastal manatees and bottlenose dolphins were found in shallow waters and all other species exclusively in deep waters east of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System. These preliminary findings suggest there is a low density of marine mammals in the offshore habitats of Belize. Future studies should employ vessel-based distance sampling techniques and passive acoustic monitoring to reliably track the occurrence of marine mammals in this region and assess their distribution and abundance.
Article
Full-text available
We studied the sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus in the Colombian Caribbean by combining data from our offshore surveys of behaviour, encounter rate, group structure and density with data from the literature. We describe for the first time the potential distribution of sperm whales in the Colombian Caribbean, using sighting and acoustic data obtained during our surveys, published information, and opportunistic encounters during 1988–2020. Observations during surveys were conducted on seismic vessels over an area 68,904.7 km2 and 703 days of observation effort during 2011–2016. We recorded 98 individuals in a total of 50 groups, a density of 1.42 individuals per 1,000 km2. To determine the potential distribution of the species, we built Maxent models with uncorrelated environmental variables at five depths (from the surface to c. 2,000 m). The model for 1,000 m depth had the best performance, with areas of high probability of occurrence of sperm whales in the south and north-east Colombian Caribbean over the shelf break to waters up to c. 3,000 m deep, at a median distance of 107 km from the coast, and near the Archipelago of San Andres, Old Providence and Saint Catherine in the north-west. This area may be an important tropical habitat for sperm whales, in which they socialize, rest, breed and feed. Our study underlines the importance of monitoring marine mammals offshore and describes the potential distribution of sperm whales in the Colombian Caribbean, supporting conservation actions for this Vulnerable species, which is currently facing several threats in this region.
Book
Full-text available
Esta guía presenta 95 especies de aves avistadas con sus respectivos nombres científicos y comunes, tamaño, longitud de alas estiradas, entre otras características. Se reportaron aves acuáticas como garzas, patos, polluelas, andarríos, guacos, martín pescador y cigüeñas, las cuales usan ecosistemas dominados por cuerpos de agua dulce o salada, durante buena parte de su ciclo biológico; aves marinas como paíños, petreles, albatros, págalos, gaviotas, gaviotines, piqueros, rabijuncos y pelícanos, cuyo hábitat y fuente principal de alimento es el mar; y, aves terrestres como reinitas, golondrinas y halcones, varias de ellas especies migratorias.
Chapter
Full-text available
This visual guide presents marine mammal species sighted offshore in the Colombian Caribbean between 2013 and 2018, showing when possible, different behaviors or perspectives of sighted specimens, with relevant information about them.
Book
Full-text available
This visual guide is prepared based on the photographic records of the offshore hydrocarbon exploration projects developed by Anadarko Colombia Company (ACC), some of them in association with Ecopetrol, and by other operator companies such as REPSOL and SHELL, who hired Marine Fauna Observers (MFO) collecting information along the Colombian Caribbean coast, 50 km off from the coastline between the Gulf of Urabá and the northern part of the Guajira peninsula. The MFO had shifts every 4 hours observing and taking photographs of the different organisms sighted, aboard the vessels of each of the projects that were carried out. The best photographic records of the main sighted species were selected and included 125 species sighted and confirmed in this guide, covering a wide area of the Colombian Caribbean with few records and low observation effort. The photos were classified by large groups, birds (95 species), marine mammals (13 species), fish (12 species), sea turtles (4 species) and invertebrates (1 species), which were identified with the help of taxonomic identification keys, and the participation of national and foreign experts specialized in each of the large groups, reaching the most specific taxon possible. Each large group presents a pleasant and easy-to-read introduction for any type of reader, whether expert or not on the subject, which is supported by the minimum technical standards given by experts.
Article
Full-text available
The bottlenose dolphin, genus Tursiops, is cosmopolitan occurring in tropical and temperate regions, with morphological variation between and within different oceans. Since the genus' taxonomy has been under discussion for a long time, this work aimed at analyzing the cranial variability of T. truncatus from different regions of the world. Geometric Morphometrics analyses were performed in 201 skulls of adult specimens, on dorsal, ventral, and lateral views, from the Eastern North Pacific, Eastern North Atlantic, Eastern South Atlantic, and Western South Atlantic oceans. The results indicate differences between individuals that inhabit the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. Within the Atlantic Ocean, there is an evident longitudinal differentiation of specimens from the eastern and western regions. A latitudinal separation was also observed, considering specimens from the North and South Atlantic Ocean. In the Western South Atlantic statistical differences were found between two morphological groups, identified as T. gephyreus (sensu Lahille, 1908) and T. truncatus, and the cross‐validation presented 98% as minimum confidence for correct classification of these two groups. The present study provides strong morphological support to consider these two lineages as separate species.
Article
Full-text available
Eight aerial line-transect surveys of outer continental shelf and continental slope waters (range 100-2,000 m deep) were conducted seasonally from summer 1992 through spring 1994 in the north-central and northwestern Gulf of Mexico to study the seasonal occurrence and spatial distribution of cetaceans and to estimate their abundances. The surveys sampled an 85,815 km2 study area, resulting in 49,960 km of effort and sightings of at least 18 cetacean species and 365 cetacean groups. Eight species identified in four seasons included bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), dwarf sperm whale (Kogia sima) and pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis), and Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis). Clymene dolphin (Stenella clymene), striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), and beaked whales (Mesoplodan spp.) were sighted in three seasons. The number of species sighted seasonally ranged from 10 in fall to 15 in winter. The overall estimated abundance (number of animals) of five species, which accounted for 71% of the identified group sightings, were as follows: bottlenose dolphin, 2,890 (coefficient of variation [CV] = 0.20); pantropical spotted dolphin, 5,097 (CV 0.24); Risso's dolphin, 1,237 (CV = 0.28); dwarf-pygmy sperm whale, 176 (CV 0.31); and sperm whale, 87 (CV = 0.27). Melon-headed whales (Peponocephala electra) were sighted less frequently but were abundant (2,561; CV = 0.74) because of large group sizes. Common species were widely distributed spatially but occurred in different water depth ranges. In general, species abundance estimates varied seasonally, but the precision of estimates was usually poor (CV > 0.30) and provided little power to detect significant seasonal differences. © 2004 by the Marine Environmental Sciences Consortium of Alabama.
Article
Full-text available
Until recently, cetacean presence in the Santa Marta region of the Colombian Caribbean was poorly documented and limited to incidental reports (Cuervo et al., 1986; Prieto- Rodríguez, 1988; Vidal, 1990; Flórez-González and Torres, 19945; Flórez-González and Capella-Alzueta, 1995; Flórez- González et al., 2004). Continued presence and interest by researchers in the area since the early 2000’s has resulted in significant new information, including a better understanding of species occurrence, environmental influences, and human impacts on the local populations (Pardo and Palacios, 2006; Jiménez-Pinedo and Domínguez- García, 2007; Lozano, 2007). With the aim of providing continuity to the study of cetaceans in the region, this study reports on the cetacean community around Santa Marta during the first months of 2007. We evaluate our methods and results in the context of these recent studies and provide recommendations for future research in the region.
Article
Full-text available
Group size, site fidelity and abundance of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, were assessed during 392 photo-identification surveys conducted during 1997-1999 in the Drowned Cayes region, near Belize City, Belize, Central America. During this study 2155 dolphins were sighted across 736 groups. Mean group size was 2.9 (SD = 2.32) which is one of the smallest reported for bottlenose dolphins. One hundred and fifteen individual dolphin were photographically identified, with sighting frequencies ranging from one to fifty (X¯ = 8.1, SD = 9.05). Thirty percent of identified dolphins were judged to be residents, while 23% were photographed only once. Chao’s Mth model for closed populations was used to derive an abundance estimate of 122 dolphins (95% CI = 114 -140). This low abundance estimate and a leveling trend in the rate of newly identified individuals, indicates that the Drowned Cayes dolphin population is both small and finite. Group size, abundance, and site fidelity comparisons were made with a 4-yr photoidentification study conducted at nearby Turneffe Atoll. Both the Drowned Cayes and Turneffe Atoll studies had similarly small group sizes, low and variable levels of site fidelity and low abundance estimates, but there was no overlap between individual sightings in the two areas. The observed behavioral patterns and similarities between the two studies raise concerns that increasing pressures on Belize’s marine resources may pose a threat to its bottlenose dolphins.
Article
In order to estimate cetacean abundance, seven vessel-based surveys were conducted in outer continental shelf and continental slope waters of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico from 1992 to 1993. Sixteen species were identified, and estimates of abundance were made using line transect methods for the most commonly seen species: sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), 442 (CV = 35.7%); bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), 451 (CV = 36.5%) over the continental shelf, and 520 (CV = 56.3%) over the continental slope; pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata), 5,876 (CV = 42.3%); and Clymene dolphins (Stenella clymene), 2,285 (CV = 60.8%). Most line transect assumptions were satisfied, or were dealt with in the analyses. The major remaining bias is the probable underestimation of sperm whale abundance, due to missed animals on and near the transect line.
Article
A zoogeographical analysis of cetaceans in the waters of Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, and British Virgin Islands was conducted to document the different species found, and to relate their occurrences to patterns of ocean floor topography. A total of 2,016 sighting records was entered into a specially formatted database system, and analyzed for distributional and temporal patterns. Species included 13 odontocetes and four mysticetes. The hypothesis that the spatial distribution of cetaceans is highly correlated to the area's bathymetric relief, whether high or low, was generally supported. Through the use of a relative slope index measure, each sighting was characterized by depth classes (shelf, shelf edge, or offshore), and by sea floor relief.