Frigates study to help define need for protection

| 24/04/2019 | 22 Comments
Cayman News Service

Federico De Pascalis holds a magnificent frigatebird (Photo by Jane Haakonsson)

(CNS): Cayman is taking part in an important new study tracking magnificent frigatebirds, some of the Caribbean’s most important avian predators, which will help define what areas here and in the region may need to be protected. Department of Environment (DoE) Terrestrial Resources Unit Research Officer Jane Haakonsson and two PhD students have placed tracking devices on 26 frigates, also known man-o-wars, at the Booby Pond colony in Little Cayman, which will enable them to follow their foraging trips and collect data.

“Seabirds, as apex avian predators, are effective indicators of marine biodiversity hotspots and ocean health,” said Haakonsson in a press release.

Cayman News Service

Magnificent frigatebird (Photo by Jane Haakonsson)

“This study will help us track the frigatebirds over long distances, so we can learn, among other things, whether they have established connections between bird colonies in the region. Such data on ecosystem connectivity is important to inform resource managers,” she added.

The project will continue to track both adult and juvenile frigatebirds using Global Positioning System GPS and Global System for Mobile communication GSM loggers from multiple populations in the Caribbean British Overseas Territories, including Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and the Cayman Islands.

Cayman News Service

Map showing some of the flight paths of frigatebirds between the Cayman Islands and the Florida panhandle (Click to enlarge)

This data will inform regional-scale marine and coastal zone management, defining and designating vulnerable wetlands and marine habitats throughout the Caribbean.

Scientists will then use the movement data from Caribbean frigatebirds to support and help define the need for protected areas onshore, nearshore and offshore that can then be used to support regional conservation management.

The international team working on the project includes Liverpool University PhD Rhiannon Austin, Milan University PhD student Federico De Pascalis as well as Haakonsson. The initial tagging took place last month, and this and the live tracks of the birds are already being streamed into an online bank of data. The tracking devices last up to nine months and tagging efforts will continue through July.

The project was made possible by a newly obtained Darwin grant provided by the UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra).

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Category: Land Habitat, Science & Nature

Comments (22)

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  1. Bertie : B says:

    Yeah Frigate I am going to go G.T tomorrow , to tired today .

  2. Anonymous says:

    I like cats

  3. Anonymous says:

    Just like with the sharking feeding ban, DOE or CIG needs to ban feeding the frigates at restaurants. Not only is it bad for the birds, it interferes with the local fishermen that rely on these birds often to find fish.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Wonder how much this is going to cost us? The next study will be tagging the cockroaches in East End to see how many make it to west Bay each year. Bunch of idiots!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Do the frigates study anything else such as feeding patterns of humans?

  6. Ron Ebanks says:

    I don’t understand why Governments have to do studies on things like wildlife . I know from a child that certain places like Bobby Point sound is a natural habitat for all birds and should always be ..
    So just make that area natural protected area and call it their part of the world, and spend that money and time on much more needed causes .

    • Anonymous says:

      Ron, if only the politicians thought your way. But around the world they require reams of justification to protect anything, including people, much less Man O’ Wars.

    • Anonymous says:

      Thanks for that, scientist.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Please do something about Tukka restaurant who feeds these magnificent frigates daily, completely changing the animals behavior. They no longer go out to sea to hunt fish, but rather wait on the telephone poles waiting for Tukka to ring the dinner bell. It should be illegal for Tukka to exploit these animals as a gimmick to get people eat their crappy Australian cuisine. Try tagging one if you don’t believe me, the bird wont leave East End!

    • Anonymous says:

      Call your MLA. Have him move a ‘no feeding wild animals in the Cayman Islands’ bill in the LA. (Private Member’s Motion.)

    • Anonymous says:

      Why is that bad? Pretty sure the ones by tukka aren’t the only ones who feed here.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Well if Jane is involved, I am in!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Are Cayman Natives on the endangered list yet?
    Or are we still called Ghost People?

    • Anonymous says:

      When you kill off the conch, lobster, turtle and grouper, cannibalism is likely not far away.

      • Anonymous says:

        That’s after we eat all of you! Or will you migrate with the Frigatebirds? Dumbass. It’s this very department that can’t seem to manage the marine life and the parks. So they expand them! Making it a poachers dream. That’s the problem with the killing of the conch, lobsters, etc. (The poachers).
        There are good people here who abide by the rules and laws. Please dont paint everyone with the same brush.

    • Man-O-War says:

      Maybe we should tag some?

    • Anonymous says:

      Keep trying to make it about you

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