Blue Defenders NGO Expeditions conducts megafauna research throughout the Caribbean. The start of our research will focus primarily on the Leeward Islands, Bonaire (Yarari Marine Mammal & Shark Santuary), Curacao and Aruba. The goal of our research is to map numbers, species and movements outside the marine park (up to 60 meters depth in the sea). To then translate this data into being able to more effectively protect megafauna. Next to this we are also involved in Marine Mammals Strandings Bonaire.
Blue Defenders is officially affiliated with ANBI in the Netherlands.
The Yarari Sanctuary (Bonaire, Statia and Saba), which encompasses all the waters around the islands including the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ, will not only protect sharks, but will also provide a haven for megafauna like whales and dolphins (report a sighting) More than twenty different species of whales and dolphins are known to inhabit the waters around these islands, including orcas, humpback whales and sperm whales.
Blue Defenders expeditions will start in waters around Bonaire and will subsequently expand to Curaçao, Aruba and the wider Caribbean. In collaboration with Caribbean Islands Manta Conservation Program and other organizations present on the islands, we want to draw attention to the protection of cetaceans. For example, by ensuring safe passages (blue corridors). In the coming years we will do whatever it takes to get info about the cetaceans in the Caribbean. In the coming weeks we will make a test trip to the most northern point of the EEZ boundaries of the Dutch Caribbean. We are planning our first trip in January 2024 for three weeks. After evaluation we will make another trip in May and October of each one week. We’ll be sailing on a Catamaran with Bonaire Yacht Charters. On our site we will publish the expedition dates in a timely manner. Another goal is to tag whales so we can clearly record the route. We obviously choose the least invasive method of tagging. Through drone deployment, we can retrieve essential data with a transmitter that sticks to the whale’s back for several weeks. A marine biologist will join us on our trips.
Around Bonaire and Curacao we have several types of dolphins, such as the Bottlenose dolphin, Spinner dolphins but also the Orca! With the help of residents and tourists staying on Bonaire (citizens science), a database is made of the dolphins present on Bonaire but also on Curacao and Aruba. Anyone can report his or her observations. Soon it will be possible to enter the information yourself, so that there is an overview of the different species and the number of dolphins in the Marine Park of Bonaire. With this information, further research can be done into behaviour and it can be ensured that Bonaire remains a safe place. Little is known about the dolphins in this region.
To make this happen we need funding! Dierenlot is hopefully one of the sponsors but we need more! Blue Defenders is a nonprofit organization, but of course research costs money. Money for the equipment to tag the cetaceans, for the hydrophone, boat rental, crew food, website hosting, social media, clearance etc. We work with volunteers but to be honest, saving whales is not a lucrative business.
We really want to give the cetaceans a safe haven in the Western Caribbean. In the next 6 years our mission is that we can connect the whale highways in the whole Caribbean area. Through research and the results from the study, different policies can be selected. Less collisions, less plastic pollution, less noise pollution. These are all threats to whales from which they must be protected.
“Did you know that a whale absorbs more CO2 than 1,000 trees? For this reason alone, the survival of cetaceans is an absolute necessity. In protecting nature and cetaceans, we also help ourselves. Surely that must be a strong motivator for us as a society.”
Do you like to know more about our expeditions or do you want to make a donation, please don’t hesitate to contact us! You can really help us! For donations see the form below.
Soon we will also publish some more sponsorship packages. Think about helping out during an expedition week, to “adopting” a whale. In any case, we welcome every donation. Together it is possible to make the expeditions structural and thus make whale protection more efficient. Be part of this great cause!
It takes some time but soon there’ll be a Bonaire bank account for donations. For now you can donate with PayPal and Credit Card. For the Dutch people is also possible for us to send you a Tikkie.
For more info about our foundation check: ANBI Publication