The heart of the Caribbean

Defenders international conservation expert Alejandra Goyenechea heads to Jamaica for a week of meetings to help protect marine species in the Caribbean.

Sometimes being in the wildlife conservation biz ain’t so bad…like when you get to spend five days at a resort in Montego Bay, Jamaica!

But Defenders’ international conservation expert Alejandra Goyenechea isn’t heading there for sun and fun. She’s got serious business to attend to as she prepares for nonstop, all-day meetings on how to best protect endangered marine mammals and other species essential to the Caribbean ecosystems.

Today, Alejandra will be meeting with state officials and foreign diplomats to work on Specially Protected Areas and Wildlife (SPAW) in the wider Caribbean region. Among other things, the group will evaluate a plan to reintroduce endangered manatees in Guadeloupe—an archipelago southeast of Puerto Rico that is governed by France. Then from Oct. 6-9, Alejandra will participate in discussions about the United Nation’s action plan for protecting the Caribbean marine environment.

The small island nations of the Caribbean get little attention even though their waters contain some of the most important and abundant marine life. Dolphins, whales, sharks and tuna all make their home in the warm tropical waters of the Caribbean Sea, and nearly 10 percent of the world’s remaining coral reefs are found here. Yet these fragile habitats are in peril from rising sea temperatures due to global warming, putting the entire Caribbean ecosystem–and the livelihoods of those who depend on it–at great risk.

Protecting the Caribbean is critically important, and so is forging strong relationships with new international allies. When it comes to voting on major initiatives at future meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), Caribbean nations have often been key conservation partners. We hope to continue working closely with these nations for the betterment of all threatened and endangered species in the Caribbean and around the world.

Alejandra will follow up next week to tell us what actions will be taken to protect marine life in the Caribbean in coming years and how these island nations can help support Defenders’ CITES objectives. Hopefully, she’ll have time to take a few pictures from the beach as well!