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The power of collaboration: Citizen Science filling gaps of information on Marine Mammals in Roatan

Updated: Dec 16, 2022
Photo Credits: Shawn Jackson

Roatan is known for its beautiful beaches and crystal-clear waters, which are home to a diverse array of marine mammals. Some of the most common species found in the waters around Roatan include common dolphins, rough tooth dolphins, pilot whales, and sperm whales. These marine mammals are important for the health and balance of the marine ecosystem.

For example, common dolphins and rough tooth dolphins are top predators that help to regulate the populations of smaller fish and invertebrates. Pilot whales and sperm whales, on the other hand, feed on larger prey such as squid and octopus, playing a crucial role in controlling the populations of these animals. In terms of habitat, these marine mammals can be found in a variety of different environments. Common dolphins are often found in shallow, coastal waters, while rough tooth dolphins prefer deeper waters. Pilot whales and sperm whales, on the other hand, can be found in both shallow and deep waters, depending on the availability of food.

One of the main challenges facing marine mammal research in Roatan is the lack of data. Due to the remote location of the island and the difficulty of conducting research in the open ocean, there is a significant deficiency of information about the populations, behavior, and habitats of these animals. This lack of data makes it difficult for scientists to effectively study and protect these species. One way the RMP is addressing this problem is using citizen science. Citizen science is a form of research that involves the participation of members of the public in scientific projects. In the case of marine mammal research in Roatan, the RMP has joined forces with St. Andrews University, ILILI, WSORC, RIMS and FINS to start the country’s first baseline for Marine Mammals using citizens science.

We have developed an online form , in which anyone can upload their sightings. To date we have over 100 sightings which include 15 species of marine mammals in the Caribbean. The most common sightings are of bottle nose dolphins and some of the most exciting and rare sightings have been of Orcas in July. If you live in Roatan or are just visiting, we encourage you to join forces and report your marine mammal sightings. By participating in this project, you can help provide valuable data and insights that can support marine mammals research and fill many data gaps in Honduras.

A big thank you to all the citizens that had contributed to this project that will make a big difference in the future of Marine Research in Honduras.

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