Cetacean sightings in Puerto Rican waters: including the first underwater photographic documentation of a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata)
Keywords:conservation, management, biodiversity, whales, Puerto Rico, Caribbean
Opportunistic encounters by experts and the public (i.e. fishermen, tourists) can be great assets to understanding cetacean distribution, especially in areas where surveys are limited. Sightings of Puerto Rican pelagic cetaceans have been reported in the past, with known seasonality in some species. Within this report, we document sightings for eight species, report new monthly distributions for three of these species, as well as the presence of rough-toothed dolphins close to the coast, and the first underwater sighting of a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) off San Juan, Puerto Rico. Unfortunately, the lack of long-term studies due to limited funding and resources has been an obstacle in determining species diversity and overall health of cetacean populations. However, this note provides evidence that collaboration between marine biologists and citizen-based science is possible and desired, and serves as a valuable resource to protect and conserve native, pelagic, and transient cetacean species around Puerto Rican waters.
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