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Blue Defenders NGO Expeditions conducts megafauna research throughout the Caribbean. The start of our research will focus primarily on the Leeward Islands, Bonaire (Yarari Marine Mammal & Shark Santuary), Curacao and Aruba. The goal of our research is to map numbers, species and movements outside the marine park (up to 60 meters depth in the sea). To then translate this data into being able to more effectively protect megafauna.

As per July 12th 2024 Natascha Borgstein is our expert on Curacao.
She’s a Master of Science with a MSc in Marine Biology. She works for Turtle&Ray Productions HD in Willemstad. 

Our expeditionteam consists out of an expedition leader, 2 captains, cook, crew, marine biologist, photographer and spotters. Besides our expedition and data team we have Beau van Erven Dorens as our patron of the foundation.

We are also involved in Marine Mammals Strandings Bonaire.




Yarari Sanctuary

The Yarari Sanctuary (Bonaire, Statia and Saba), which encompasses all the waters around the islands including the Exclusive Economic Zone or EEZ, will not only protect sharks, but will also provide a haven for megafauna like whales and dolphins (report a sighting)  More than twenty different species of whales and dolphins are known to inhabit the waters around these islands, including orcas, humpback whales and sperm whales.

Walvissen fotografie - expeditie - Bluedefenders Noorwegen

Expeditions in the Caribbean

Blue Defenders expeditions will start in waters around Bonaire and will subsequently expand to Curaçao, Aruba and the wider Caribbean. In collaboration with Caribbean Islands Manta Conservation Program, Stinapa and other organizations present on the islands, we want to draw attention to the protection of cetaceans. For example, by ensuring safe passages (blue corridors). In the coming years we will do whatever it takes to get info about the cetaceans in the Caribbean. We had our first trip in the Yarari Sanctuary in January 2024. After evaluation we have decided to make another trip in May (27th – June 1st)  and October of each one week. We’ll be sailing on a Catamaran with Bonaire Yacht Charters. On our site we will publish the expedition dates in a timely manner.

Shark & Ray research

Another goal is to record sharks & rays through citizen science. We will make us of BRUV (Baited Remote Underwater Video) systems in combination of tagging sharks. Then we can clearly record the route. We obviously choose the least invasive method of tagging. In a few years we want tag whales through drone deployment, we can retrieve essential data with a transmitter that sticks to the whale’s back for several weeks. A marine biologist will join us on our trips.

Dolphins on Aruba, Bonaire & Curacao

Around Bonaire and Curacao we have several types of dolphins, such as the Bottlenose dolphin, Rough toothed, Spinner dolphins but also the Orca! With the help of residents and tourists staying on Bonaire (citizens science), a database is made of the dolphins present on Bonaire but also on Curacao and Aruba. Anyone can report his or her observations. Soon it will be possible to enter the information yourself, so that there is an overview of the different species and the number of dolphins in the Marine Park of Bonaire. With this information, further research can be done into behaviour and it can be ensured that Bonaire remains a safe place. Little is known about the dolphins in this region.

Dolphin facts

  • Dolphins will stay underwater for about 10 seconds before they come to the surface again. But they can stay underwater for over 10 minutes or even longer.
  • When dolphins are sleeping they only use half of their brain, the other side of there brain make sure they can still swim and breath.
    Bottlenose dolphins are usually slow swimmers but they can reach 30mph
  • Dolphins like to blow bubbles to push their prey up to the surface but they also use ‘fish-whacking’. They use their tail to hit fish which will make it easier to catch them.
Blue Defenders Logo - Nature - Photography - Expeditions

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To make this happen we need funding! WWF-NL,  Dierenlot and Bonaire Yacht Charters are our main sponsors but we need more. Blue Defenders is a nonprofit organization, but of course research costs money. Money for the equipment to tag the cetaceans, for the hydrophone, boat rental, crew food, website hosting, social media, iPads, camera’s, clearance etc. We work with volunteers but to be honest, saving whales is not a lucrative business.

We really want to give the cetaceans a safe haven in the Western Caribbean. In the next 5 years our mission is that we can connect the whale highways in the whole Caribbean area. Through research and the results from the study, different policies can be selected. Less collisions, less plastic pollution, less noise pollution. These are all threats to whales from which they must be protected.

“Did you know that a whale absorbs more CO2 than 1,000 trees? For this reason alone, the survival of cetaceans is an absolute necessity. In protecting nature and cetaceans, we also help ourselves. Surely that must be a strong motivator for us as a society.”
Do you like to know more about our expeditions or do you want to make a donation, please don’t hesitate to contact us! You can really help us! 

We’re still looking for a sponsor that wants to sponsor our clothing with sponsorbranding! You have to think about shirts, beanies, etc. Together it is possible to make the expeditions structural and thus make whales, sharks, rays & dolphins protection more efficient. Be part of this great cause!

You can donate through:
Maduro and Curiels Bank (Bonaire)
Account name: Stichting Blue Defenders
Account number: 42563100

For the Dutch people it’s also possible for us to send a Tikkie.

For more info about our foundation check: ANBI & Donateurs belangen.

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