Protect Baby Seabirds in the Caribbean

by Environmental Protection in the Caribbean
Vetted
Laughing Gulls are back for the nesting season.
Laughing Gulls are back for the nesting season.

While some birds in northern latitudes are just starting to sing their Spring mating songs, the Caribbean winter has been busy with breeding seabirds. Some species, like Brown Boobies and Red-billed Tropicbirds, nest year-round and are trying to find enough food for with their rapidly-growing chicks. Meanwhile, the summer breeding tern and gulls are arriving, as can be seen in this photo by Grenadines Volunteer Patrol member Paul James.

We have received a positive response thus far regarding a funding proposal to create an app for our Patrol members to use. This would make it much easier to collect data from the remote and spread out islands of the Grenadines. Even better, the data would be included in a worldwide biodiversity database, making it easier for government officials and other stakeholders to understand the wealth of wildlife which needs protection and the serious threats faced by island refuges.

Believe it or not, your contribution helps us to leverage large funding options like these. We show funders how important this issue is to supporters like you and that we can cover costs like training and gas for Grenadines Volunteer Patrol members. We are taking your support and magnifying its impact…thank you for making all of this possible!

We would love to get your feedback on this project...please submit your responses to the GlobalGiving survey. If you have something positive to say, we can share it with potential funders and if you have suggestions we would be thrilled to hear about them.

Your participation and support is the core of this project and we sincerely appreciate you!

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Volunteer Patrol member Lorcan entering data.
Volunteer Patrol member Lorcan entering data.

For a nature lover like Lorcan Martineau, it is a blessing to have been raised among the beautiful Grenadines islands. Coming from a long tradition of boatbuilders and deep sea fishermen, Lorcan was introduced to the ocean and its wonders starting at an early age. By the age of 17, he had built his first boat and soon became a scuba diver, coral gardener, and sea turtle monitor, while also sharing his knowledge with children as an environmental educator.


His quiet demeanor belies his passion for the environment, conservation, and knowledge. Even when he's not working, he's busy at home reading up on turtles, corals, birds, etc. and trying to learn as much as he can.


When Lorcan heard about the training workshop for the Grenadines Volunteer Patrol, he jumped at the opportunity to learn more about seabirds and how to protect them. Today he is an active member of the Patrol team, sending reports of his seabird sightings while travelling among the Grenadine islands.


It is heartbreaking to see the devastation possible on even the most remote seabird nesting island, caused by fire, invasive predators, or harvests by people. It is especially hard to bear when you know it is your natural heritage which is disappearing, areas that are part of family and cultural traditions. The Grenadines Volunteer Patrol empowers local citizens like Lorcan to help protect the remaining seabird colonies, collecting data and reporting sightings from wildlife refuges and serving as advocates.


Thank to supporters like you, we have been able to host annual workshops to recruit and train members of the Grenadines Volunteer Patrol, members who are ready to take action to learn about and protect their natural heritage. In fact, this project is now at 90% of our annual fundraising goal! Please consider a year-end contribution to get us to 100% funding.


There are still areas with amazing seabird colonies, hosting thousands of nesting birds, which need to be patrolled. With your help, we can continue to expand the scope of the Grenadines Volunteer Patrol, reaching these remote areas by empowering more concerned citizens to make a difference. Thank you!

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Volunteer Patrol members
Volunteer Patrol members

Thanks to caring donors like you, we were able to hold a second seabird training workshop this summer, resulting in 19 more Volunteer Patrol members. The participants are energized and already to putting their new skills to use in protecting vulnerable wildlife refuges. 

The first day of training was a classroom session which covered how to identify seabirds by species, including a lively quiz session, how to enter data, and conservation issues.  There was also a discussion of local, traditional knowledge regarding seabirds, such as which species foretell a change in the weather or indicate a certain type of fish is present. The classroom session culminated with participants proudly displaying their signed pledge to protect seabirds as members of the Volunteer Patrol. 

The second day was a field lesson within the Tobago Cays Marine Park aboard a beautiful sailing ship. Observing nesting seabirds from the boat, one participant, a veteran fisherman, exclaimed with surprise that he didn’t know birds were nesting there. Each participant received a pair of binoculars and learned how to use them, practicing their new seabird identification skills with success.

All trainees joined the Facebook and WhatsApp groups for Patrol members; this enables easy communication and a community of support for members, who are dispersed throughout the island chain. Members are active in posting questions, photos, and recent observations. For example, we recently put out a call for help on this network, needing to know if there are rats on a particular island for a grant funding request. Members promptly responded with their observations and will be visiting the island to confirm if rats are there.

Observations are also made independently; when fishermen or tour operators are at sea, they take time to visit nearby islands and record data. For each data sheet, the volunteers are reimbursed for their fuel costs, an essential component for many who are struggling financially.

It is now hurricane season in the Caribbean, a time when few birds are nesting. However, this winter and the following summer the birds will return to raise their young. Patrol members will be there, providing crucial data on the number of nests, what types of invasive predators like rats are found, and evidence of harvesting by people. Crucially, they are also serving as educators and advocates for wildlife and protected areas in their communities.

With your continued generosity, this community of conservationists will keep growing through additional workshops and one-on-one support. Data is already showing increased numbers of nesting birds on certain islands while observations of seabird harvesting are fewer. We are excited to keep this momentum going, empowering citizens to make a difference in protecting the remarkable diversity and beauty of Caribbean wildlife refuges. Thank you making this project possible!

You answered the call for help, thank you!
You answered the call for help, thank you!

It's a bit nerve-racking to put out a call for help, as we did last week for Bonus Day. We wonder, will people respond? Have we been able to show how critical it is that we continue working to protect the remaining seabirds of the Caribbean?

We got our answer...supporters like you brought us nearly $1,000 closer to our fundraising goal for the month! We still need to raise more funds but the positive response has made the future so much brighter for this project and for the seabirds who need your help. 

We are already seeing how community outreach and the presence of seabird stewards can make a difference. Over the last two years, seabird steward Wayne of Grenada has seen no evidence of harvesting in his monitoring area. Just a few years before that, researchers had found piles of chick carcasses and observed people collecting buckets of eggs. Wayne gets rides out to the seabird nesting islands with fishermen, which is a great opportunity to spread the word about the importance of the nesting areas and learn more about their perspectives. While this is the first full season for our other seabird stewards, we anticipate getting positive reports from them as well.

We feel so grateful for the community of supporters who have rallied behind this cause and look forward to sharing more great news with you in the near future. 

If you have not donated recently, please consider doing so. Thank you for making this project possible and please encourage others to do the same.

In Gratitude,

Natalia

Amazed among thousands of nesting seabirds
Amazed among thousands of nesting seabirds

We are busy planning a workshop to train local fishermen and others how to monitor and protect seabirds on islands that do not yet have advocates working in the field to protect them. You already know how important this work is, thank you for helping to make this project so successful. We must continue to protect seabirds and their eggs and chicks from being harvested, that's why we are calling on you to please donate today to expand our community of empowered and educated wildlife advocates. By donating today (Wednesday June 15), a Bonus Day, your donation can be matched

As one of our trainees recently posted after a survey to an island with thousands of nesting birds "what a sight to behold...beautiful." Indeed, the energy and abundance of life on these small islands can be awe inspiring. However, we musn't loose sight of the fact there there are very few of these islands left. Caribbean seabird populations are a tiny fraction of what they once were and relegated to the most remote and inhospitable islands. 

You can help to ensure that these amazing places remain for this and future generations to behold in wonder. Please donate today!

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Organization Information

Environmental Protection in the Caribbean

Location: Riviera Beach, FL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.epicislands.org
Project Leader:
Natalia Collier
Green Cove Springs, FL United States
$16,906 raised of $18,000 goal
 
139 donations
$1,094 to go
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