Wildlife Conservation Society Belize Trains Members of Belize Marine Stranding Network Print E-mail
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Written by Jem Smith   
Wednesday, 12 April 2017 00:00

Over 30 members of the Belize Marine Mammal Stranding Network (BMMSN) met from April 5th- 7th, 2017 at the Coastal Zone Management Authority and Institute’s Training Room. The purpose of the meeting was to reorganize the BMMSN and to establish better communication and data management.

On-site field workers were offered training by the WCS. These workers, who respond to cases of distressed marine mammals and sea turtles, came from WCS, Wildtracks Belize, Southern Environmental Association (SEA), OCEANA, Toledo Institute for Development and Education (TIDE), Forest Department, Sarteneja Alliance for Conservation Development (SACD), Sea to Shore Alliance, Fragments of Hope, UB Environmental Research Institute (ERI), Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Association (TASA), Fisheries and Forestry Departments, and veterinarians from across the country.

The workshop presented up-to-date training in response to distressed animals and examinations of manatee and dolphin carcasses. The trainings were done by experts in the fields ranging from local to international persons.

According to WCS’s Country Director, Nicole Auil Gomez, “The network needs revitalization, and new biologists and organizations need to be trained…” She believes that the workshop will allow better coordination and data collection across Belize.

Funding for the workshop came from the WWF’s Russell E. Train Education for Nature Program (EFN). The Country Representative of WWF in Belize, Nadia Bood, said that the facility is “critically important given the increasing trend of marine mammal strandings being observed”. Understanding the threat, she believes, could help in conservation actions. She expressed that the WWF is happy to be a supportive part of the initiative. Support for the workshop also came from the Corozal Sustainable Future Initiative and the Oak Foundation.

Nicole Auil Gomez, WCS’s Country Director, commented that the 35 participants definitely received new and vital information and skills. The workshop was held in an attempt to engage a new population of field workers in how to better respond to distressed and endangered marine mammals. They also were given the skills and kits to deal with dolphin and manatee carcasses. At the workshop, those persons were given the hands on opportunity of dissecting dolphin and manatee carcasses as well as receiving interactive learning sessions from veterinarians on live animals.

Auil Gomez believes that the workshop will be beneficial to revitalize the organization and field workers. What often occurs, Auil Gomez says, is that persons in the field move within different organizations and information and skills are not passed on to their replacements. She believes that the workshop will be advantageous in the future of the WCS.