Local whales, sharks and dolphins in limelight

The Department of the Environment, along with Marine Conservation International and the Save Our Seas Foundation is currently undertaking a study to determine what species of whale, dolphin and shark occur in Cayman waters.

During the team’s time in Cayman, they will be implementing a species action plan and a habitat action plan.

Mauvis Gore of Marine Conservation international remarked, ‘It is an achievement for the Cayman Islands to be doing this, ahead of many other countries.’

Director of the Department of the Environment Gina Ebanks-Petrie explained the importance of the data being collected.

‘This work is extremely important in that it lets us know what species are here and reveals trends that give us the tools to make educated decisions regarding policy,’ she said.

Similar undertakings have been conducted in countries such as Pakistan and Egypt and Dr. Gore has done work in the Cayman Islands before, studying the coral reefs.

‘It is important for us to have the community’s support and involvement,’ said Ms Gore, whose PhD is in Marine Biology.

She cited as an example the misinformation printed in one local publication purporting that there were shark hunters on island.

Both she and Mrs. Ebanks-Petrie laughed at the slight but emphasised the true importance of people knowing why the team was here in order to avoid persons mistaking the researchers for poachers of the Island’s marine life.

They added that this undertaking and making sure the marine environment was thriving was crucial, especially to our dive tourism industry.

This study coincides with several incidents of creatures washing up on Cayman’s shores but is not as a result of these occurrences.

Funding for the initiative is provided by the Overseas Territories Environmental Programme.