Over the past years, there have been several incidents of marine mammals, including whales, being beached in different parts of the Guiana Shield. This phenomenon was recognised by MAMACOCOSEA at its regional workshop during 18-20 March 2013 in Paramaribo. The participants determined as a high priority, the development of a regional stranding network and database (including sharing of genetic material). Click here to download the full report.
In light of the most recent occurrences where two whales were beached in Guyana (December 2014 and January 2015) and one in Suriname (April, 2013), the Guiana Shield Facility (GSF) is particularly concerned and will be monitoring this development in collaboration with MAMACOCOSEA.
In April, 2013 a large whale, accompanied by a calf, was seen in the shallow coastal waters of Suriname. Digital images confirmed the species identification as humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae. According the Anton de Kom University of Suriname January, 2015 Newsletter “this is the first confirmed record of humpback whales in Suriname. The observation was made at the extreme southern limit of the North Atlantic population's distribution and suggests that the waters along the northern coast of South America may be used for within-season movements between the different breeding and calving areas of the Wider Caribbean Region.”
Also, in Guyana in December, 2014, a 40 feet sperm whale weighing 30 tons washed up on the Kitty (a part of the city of Georgetown) foreshore and as recent as January 15, 2015 another whale unfortunately perished on the foreshore of the No. 37 Village, West Coast Berbice. It was confirmed to be a male Pygmy Sperm Whale measuring 9 feet 2 inches.
A recent report titled Synthese Biblio Cetaces Petrole Guyane published by Claire Pusineri, Scientific Director of the Association of Ocean Science and Logistics (OSL) revealed that “there is an abundant and diversified community of cetaceans for a tropical area that characterizes the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of French Guiana.”
The report revealed that the species are threatened by several human activities, such as catches in fishing nets, coastal water quality degradation, and the development of oil activities since the early 2000s. Download the full report - Synthese Biblio Cetaces Petrole Guyane VF2 (2.38 MB).
The GSF recognizes the importance of Whales to the ecosystem and intends to collaborate with its MAMACOCOSEA counterparts within the Guiana Shield to understand what may be triggering such incidents.
In a recent article by James Lian and Kevin Lu of Sydney Boys High School, they noted that “Whaling is definitely affecting the world’s ecosystems. It has decimated the great whale population, especially in the southern hemisphere.”
Whales are vital to the food chain, stabilizing the food flow and maintaining a healthy ocean. As such, the rapidly decreasing numbers of whales are going to have major effects on the ocean's ecosystem.
Whales are vital to sustaining healthy marine life by regulating the food flow of the ocean. They are a key part of the ocean and play a key part the energy flow and biological pump of the overall marine life. An example is the blue whale. One of these large mammals consumes a whopping 40 million krill in one day so you can imagine what the consequences will be if these species become extinct.