“Expedition Vanuatu” is a component of a large scale project called “A Pattern of Dolphins” (aPOD) that looks at the seascape genetics of insular populations of dolphins across Oceania.
Since Oceania is too vast a region to sample adequately with systematic surveys, we decided to focus effort at selected islands, to establish a framework for the comparative analysis and future studies. The inclusion of Vanuatu in this large scale study will be very valuable for several reasons:
- Very little information is available on marine mammals in Vanuatu and this study will contribute to improve local knowledge for future management and conservation action.
- Vanuatu has a central position in Melanesia that make any data from that region particularly interesting, especially for comparison with neighbours from the Solomon Islands and New Caledonia (also covered in aPOD).
- Vanuatu might be included in the program REMMOA of the French Agency for Marine Protected Areas that conducts aerial surveys to look at the distribution of marine megafauna. REMMOA and aPOD offer complementary approaches and future collaboration between the two programs would provide valuable information on the conservation status of marine mammals in that region.
- During Expedition Vanuatu, we will survey two islands (Efate and Espiritu Santo) by small boat to collect individual identification photographs and genetic samples from all species of dolphins that we will encountered. We are hoping to encounter species such as spinner dolphins, common bottlenose dolphins, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, rough-toothed dolphins and short-finned pilot whales. Marc Oremus, from the South Pacific Whale Research Consortium, and Véronique Pérard, from Opération Cétacés, will work in collaboration with local fishermen. This project will also provide the opportunity for capacity building by offering training in marine mammal surveys to local Government representatives.
Learn more about the Expedition Vanuatu.