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Bottlenose Dolphin Research at Blackbeard Caye Field Station, Turneffe Atoll, Belize

Oceanic Society

"The Oceanic Society has been studying dolphins in Turneffe Atoll, Belize since 1992. Turneffe Atoll is a hotspot for marine megafauna including sea turtles and American crocodiles, Antillean manatees, bottlenose dolphins, elasmobranchs (sharks, rays, and skates), as well as important breeding aggregations of goliath groupers and other large fishes, prized sport fishes (bonefish, permit, and tarpon), and an array of large and small invertebrates like commercially valuable conch and lobster. Over the past 20 years, a wealth of data on key megafauna species in Turneffe Atoll has been generated. Oceanic Society alone has amassed 22 years of dolphin data, 13 years of manatee data, and similar data sets on crocodiles, and coral reefs. Once catalogued and analyzed, these historic data and newly gathered data can give us insights not only into the natural histories of these species, but into the ecological health of the many habitats they utilize.

Based out of Blackbird Caye Field Station, we and our partners are uniquely positioned to conduct a range of megafauna studies; to manage megafauna and habitat data in modern relational databases that allow for broad data-sharing and local, regional, and global-scale analyses; and to use these data for modeling management scenarios and providing informed advice to decision makers. By working with partners to integrate and standardize existing megafauna research and conservation efforts, we aim to provide managers and conservationists with evidence-based decision-making tools that will ensure the long-term health of Turneffe Atoll's ecological and commercial resources. We strive to modernize, staff and properly equip the Blackbird Caye Field Station to assure that we are meeting the highest standards of modern field research."

—The Oceanic Society

This project is helping to fund multiple non-invasive research techniques, including the use of remotely operated and unmanned aerial and aquatic vehicles to help better understand the behavior, communication and ecology of marine mammals in the Turneffe Atoll environment.

Read more about Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve on the Oceanic Society's website.

© 2015

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