Whales

Whales and dolphins are an intricate part of the marine and coastal fauna of the northeast Caribbean Sea. Humpbacks (Megaptera novaangliae) accounted for approximately 80% of sightings in the area. They aggregate most commonly off Rincón and Aguadilla. They use these areas for breeding and calving.

Whales are high-end indicators of the health of the ocean habitat and biodiversity. The physical destruction of important expanses of natural habitat is a significant contributor to the decline of whales. This generally includes development on land, which alters physical oceanography and introduces pollution into the habitat. Finally, development on land can also increase the human population in the region, thus risking the crowding out of whales.

The following information and the three quotes (which directly relate to whale habitat degradation) are from: “Whales and Shared Coastal and Marine Management of the Border Pacific” chapter for Transboundary Environmental Management Issues Facing Mexico and the United States to be published by the Regents of the University of California in 2002.

“We must concentrate our attention on the parts of the ocean that are within national jurisdictions. Not because the high seas are unimportant but because both ocean life and the threats to it are concentrated near land.” (Woodard, 2000: 230)

There are three issues:
(a) “The world’s coastal areas are being overwhelmed with people and pollution”;
(b) “critical coastal resources . . . are being plundered in the name of development and lost through inertia and neglect”; and
(c) “the inability of governments . . . to craft and implement rational coastal management plans is having far-reaching consequences” (Hinrichsen, 1998: 4)

“Actual removal of suitable habitat by the building of coastal hotel resorts, breakwaters which change local current patterns and encourage silting, and dams which regulate water flow in rivers, all impose threats.” (MacDonald, 1993: 175)

To learn more about Humpback whale migrate routes check out the following website:
http://www.coastalstudies.org/research/yonah.htm

Reference:
1. Mingucci-giannoni, Antonio A. “Zoogeography of Cetaceans off Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands”, Caribbean Journal of Sciences, Vol. 34, No. 3-4, pp. 173-190, 1998.

2. Mark Spalding