On the 24th January, I found myself on a Coast Guard vessel at 6:30am racing along the north coast of Trinidad towards the island of Saut d'Eau (So-do) with camera and binoculars in hand, looking for any signs of whales or dolphins. I was on CCARO's first cetacean survey of the year.

On this month's survey, although we have heard from our interviews with fishermen, that dolphins pass along this north coast route regularly in the morning, no whales or dolphins were spotted along our survey route. This could have been because they were not there at that time or because of the viewing conditions. The seastate was a beaufort 4 with low to medium swells which was not uncomfortably rough but did not provide the best viewing conditions and a low surfacing animal could have been missed in the chop and swell, especially as the vessel was small and my viewing platform was just above the water surface.

It is possible that the dolphins spotted by fishermen only frequent this area at cetain times of day or year or that they have learnt to follow fishing vessels (which we were clearly not). It is this type of information that we would like to discover: are these areas important to cetaceans, when are these areas used and for what purposes; are there common intereactions between cetaceans and local fisheries? Hopefully we will learn more as the surveys continue.

              A partial view of Saut d'Eau Island                                       A brown pelican