Our team of scientists lead research projects with marine animals internationally. In Mexico, we work to study marine megafauna across the Mexican Caribbean coast. Our work in Belize focuses on the distribution, behavioral ecology, and communication of marine mammals.
This includes bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, Antillean manatees, and various species of sharks and rays.
But these species face major impacts from boat-based tourism and future development.
We identify species like leatherback sea turtles in the shallow lagoon waters of Sian Ka'an.
Our data suggest sinkholes are key habitats for manatees within the reserve. They are also prime locations for boat-based tourism.
We use small drones to detect and track manatees throughout the region. Our methods for drone-based studies are proving to be powerful for studying wild manatees.
We work closely with the communities in the region to improve education about marine mammals in local communities and to help establish sustainable dolphin- and manatee-watching tour practices.
Project summary: Understanding the health and condition of wild manatees is complicated. We flew small commercial drones over manatees out-of-the-box and equipped with small LiDAR sensors. We used these drone-based videos and images of manatees in captivity and the wild to develop effective methods for measuring their body size and assessing their body condition. These results are getting worked up for submission to the special issue of Mammalian Biology on individual identification and photographic techniques in mammalian ecological and behavioural research.
Since 2009, we have been building an understanding of the diversity of marine mammal species found in the Western Caribbean Sea. We aggregate opportunistic sighting data and published records to maintain a comprehensive database of marine mammals throughout Mexico, Belize, and Honduras.
FINS Scientist Eric Angel Ramos has been collaborating closely with the Whales of Guerrero since 2016 and a guest scientist to the project. The Whales of Guerrero is based out of la Barra de Potosi and conducts important baseline research with marine animals along the Pacific coast of Guerrero, Mexico.
We documented the first cases of lobomycosis-like disease in dolphins in Belize in the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific coast of Guerrero, Mexico. Read the publication in Disease of Aquatic Mammals
We're investigating the feeding and social behaviors of the rough-toothed dolphin population found off the coast of Guerrero, Mexico.
Several species of dolphins regularly interact with humpback whales at our field site. We're using drone-based observations of their behaviors to better understand what happens during these events and the drivers for these occurrences.
We are studying the interactions between an aberrant humpback whale we documented interacting with many different marine species.