The St. Maarten Nature Foundation recently concluded a Marine Mammal survey, with the aim of monitoring the significant amount of mammals visiting and residing in the island’s Man of War Shoal Marine Park and surrounding waters. The most abundant species recorded on the survey was the Humpback whale – some of which had their new calves with them!
At the same time that many North American humans take a relaxing vacation to the Caribbean, so do many of our Humpback friends, who travel great distances to breed and give birth in warmer waters (they prefer to feed in colder waters with higher productivity of plakton, krill and fish). Many of these tremendously intelligent and majestic creatures make the trip every year to their preferred breeding sites. Humpbacks are known to be quite acrobatic in the water and thus provide excellent whale watching tour opportunities, which have become quite popular and profitable. Whales are also sensitive animals and new mothers especially can be extremely protective. Nature tours need to be well-designed and regulated as not to disturb them.
The Nature Foundation and partners also recorded some of the “singing” that the male Humpbacks performed in St. Maarten’s waters. Much is still to be learned about the language of these whales. See if you can figure out what they are saying in the YouTube video below where you will also see photos form the survey. Visit the Nature Foundation on Facebook to keep up with their work and learn about the other marine mammals found in their survey.