Continental coasts of the Caribbean Basin are propitious to three species of Stenella dolphins
After an investigation carried out by a group of 19 national and international researchers, among which Dalia Barragán (early stage CEMarin researcher) stands out, it was concluded that the screw dolphin and the spotted dolphin are distributed in similar areas of the Seaflower Reserve.
On board the ARC Providencia ship, a team of 11 junior and 8 senior researchers from countries such as Brazil, the United States, France, the Netherlands and Venezuela, conducted the Seaflower Expedition for 15 days in the Colombian western Caribbean.
Thanks to this monitoring carried out in the Serrana Key of the San Andrés Archipelago, it was possible to know that the areas closest to the continental coasts of the Caribbean Basin and the surrounding islands are the most conducive to finding the three species of Stenella dolphins that were investigated, that is, spotted dolphin, screw dolphin and spotted dolphin.
The study entitled “Patterns of potential distribution of three species of Stenella dolphins in the Caribbean Sea; with emphasis on the Seaflower Biosphere Reserve”, concluded that the spotted dolphin is distributed in oceanic waters that surround the San Andres and Providencia archipelago, instead, the screw dolphin is especially found in areas near islands where the slope is located of the continental drop.
According to Dalia Barragán, one of the leaders of this exploration, the objective in the first instance was to develop a diagnosis of taxonomic composition, spatial distribution, and conservation threats of cetaceans in the Seaflower Biosphere. However, after the first week of work, Dr. Barragán with her partner Rocío Lancheros decided that they should first do a study to know the location of dolphins in the Caribbean, since they only saw these mammals on one occasion.
Taking into account what happened, these researchers understood that a study was necessary to understand the distribution of Stenella dolphins in the Caribbean Basin. In addition, Dalia explained that this is one of the first efforts to know the conditions that are propitious to the Seaflower Biosphere for the concurrence of cetaceans. In the same way, establishing the presence of dolphins in these Caribbean areas could indicate the stability of the ecosystem and subsequently monitor the contaminants that may threaten the reserve.
Considering that the information on distribution patterns of these mammals in the Caribbean is scarce, institutions such as the Macuatics Foundation, the National Navy, the General Maritime Directorate, the University of the Andes, the San Andrés Archipelago Governorate, were part of this study.
During the 15 days aboard the ARC Providencia ship, the researchers began their observation work at 6:30 am until the sun went down. Their job was to record the exact position of mammals with GPS, and also record in a table the time, species and number of individuals that were presented.
Finally, after a year of exploration, the research was published in the beginning of the 2019 in the special volume of Seaflower called: “SeaFlower Biosphere Reserve: New Findings and Trends in the Largest Caribbean Marine Protected Area” of Frontiers in Marine Science Magazine.
Later Dalia Barragán had the opportunity to present this study at the XVIII SENALMAR-2019, where thanks to CEMarin he was able to attend and share this finding with different experts in marine, national and international sciences.
Following this first approach regarding the location of three Stenella dolphins in the Caribbean, Dalia expressed interest in continuing to explore distribution patterns of other mammalian species in these waters, with the idea that in the long term it can be determined whether there are areas of importance for marine mammals in the Colombian Caribbean, and if so, propose them as management and conservation areas.