Launch of expedition: exploring Cordillera Beata in Dominican waters
Barahona, DR.- The Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources (MMARN), with financial backing from Blue Nature Alliance and Blue Marine Foundation, and technical support from the Caribbean Cetacean Society, has initiated a groundbreaking scientific expedition in the Cordillera Beata, situated in Dominican territory.
The primary objective is to advocate for the declaration of this region as an oceanic protected area. The expedition, supported by international and national experts, along with specialists from the Cordillera Beata Natural Reserve (RNCB) in Colombia, aims to provide valuable data to support this significant environmental cause.
Sixteen professionals from various Dominican government entities and civil society are actively participating in the mission, which embarked from the Barahona province and is scheduled to conclude on February 14. Their collaboration with international conservation experts involves surveying pelagic fauna and collecting essential data on the distribution and abundance of marine mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, among other species.
Jonathan Delance, coordinating the Beata initiative from the Vice Ministry of Coastal and Marine Affairs, highlighted the preliminary positive findings within the first five days of the expedition. While acknowledging that the collected data requires thorough review and scientific discussion, Delance expressed optimism about the encouraging progress made in favor of conservation in the Dominican Republic.
He stated, “In the first 5 days, we have findings with encouraging expectations in terms of conservation.” Delance elaborated on the ongoing identification of observed or heard organisms for inventory purposes and emphasized the analysis of images and videos from seabed depths up to 4,200 meters, revealing at least 79 morphotypes in the process.
“All this will be combined to provide scientific support for the importance of protecting this oceanic area,” he added.
The data collected will play a crucial role in justifying the declaration of the Cordillera Beata as an oceanic protected area, encompassing the entire underwater mountain range. Currently, only the southern part of the mountain range has been declared a protected area in Colombian territorial waters.
Upon completion of the project, the Marine Protected Area is set to be named the Orlando Jorge Mera Marine Sanctuary. The Dominican Republic is actively working to meet international agreements outlined in the Global Biodiversity Framework, which aims to protect 30% of terrestrial and marine ecosystems by 2030.
Delance highlighted the potential increase in marine surface protection from 11% to about 24% with the creation of this area, making the Dominican Republic a leader in the Greater Antilles with the highest proportion of protected deep ocean waters.
This initiative is in alignment with the Joint Declaration signed by the presidents of the Republic of Colombia and the Dominican Republic on July 26, 2022, emphasizing the commitment to the protection of the Seamounts of the Cordillera Beata ecozone in the Caribbean Sea.
Expedition members, representing institutions such as the National Authority for Maritime Affairs (Anamar), José Benito Vives de Andráis Marine and Coastal Research Institute (Invemar) of Colombia, and the Grupo Punta Cana Foundation, expressed their collective desire for the Dominican Republic to achieve its environmental goals.
They stressed the importance of expanding knowledge about the biodiversity of the country’s waters and ensuring effective protection measures.
The Beata mountain range, spanning 450 kilometers between the peninsulas of La Guajira in Colombia and the Dominican Republic, is a submerged chain of mountains and plains in the Caribbean Sea, hosting numerous species within its diverse ecosystem.