Oct 12, 2021 News
– Ocean expedition captures rarely seen species
Kaieteur News – An all-Guyanese research team recently completed the first extensive expedition and survey of Guyana’s marine area. The exercise is meant to establish a baseline of the country’s large marine wildlife within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Kaieteur News understands that the ocean expedition is part of the European Union funded Marine Spatial Planning project titled, “Promoting Integrated Ocean and Participatory governance in Guyana and Suriname: The Eastern Gate to the Caribbean.”
Locally, it was implemented through a partnership lead by WWF-Guianas and the Protected Areas Commission (PAC). This newspaper understands that the project aims to significantly enhance the governance and protection of marine and coastal resources of Guyana through collaborative marine spatial planning processes with all ocean stakeholders and improving knowledge about the coastal and marine environment. The findings from the ocean expedition, along with the other project outputs, are expected to assist ongoing efforts to complete a Comprehensive Marine Spatial Plan.
Donnette Streete, Director of the Frontiers Department of Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, posited, “Guyana has in excess, 138,000 km2 of exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and that space is a critical contributor and enabler to the overall economy of Guyana. Any project, therefore, aimed to enhance the governance and protection of marine and coastal resources of Guyana, improved knowledge of the coastal and marine environment, enhanced capacity of key stakeholders and informed marine spatial management, as this project aimed to do, will have many more spinoff benefits for this country.”
From the onset of the expedition, and while enduring rough seas, the team said it spotted the magnificent Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus). Over the six-day expedition, the team also said it observed three rarely seen dolphin species including Pygmy Sperm Whale (Feresaalttenuata), numbering between three-15 individuals. The team also spotted one of the four species of marine turtle, the Loggerhead (Caretta caretta), which is known to forage in Guyana’s waters. Several species of birds were also observed throughout the six days including terns and boobies.
His Excellency Fernando Ponz Cantó, EU Ambassador to Suriname and Guyana stated, “I would like to commend the partners for organising this remarkable expedition at a time where both Suriname and Guyana have embarked on new economic paths in the oil sector. It is now more necessary than ever that these countries collaborate to protect their ocean space and ensure sustainable use of its resources.”
Deputy Commissioner for the PAC, Ms. Odacy Davis, also expressed profound gratitude to the team for their commitment and professionalism in the conduct of the surveys. The PAC official said, “This expedition has allowed us to verify and document several important species which again shows how biodiverse and naturally rich Guyana is – we should all be proud. This data will contribute to the marine spatial planning process which will inform decision-making with regard to marine and coastal governance and conservation.”
The 100 percent Guyanese research team was led by Sopheia Edghill, WWF-Guianas Marine Conservation Officer and Scientific Lead Researcher, Elford Liverpool, Fish Expert and Lecturer at University of Guyana, along with other team members.
WWF-Guianas, along with its partners, also led a similar ocean expedition in Suriname, which concluded one week ago with another expedition team. WWF-Guianas, the Protected Areas Commission and the research team will publish the full results of ocean expedition later in October.
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