Cetaceans are vulnerable marine organisms that captivate the public imagination while also playing a vital ecological role in the oceans. However, many species of large whales are still recovering from historical whaling. Moreover, cetaceans worldwide are threatened by fishing bycatch, ship strikes, and increased noise pollution.
The Chagos Archipelago, the study site of my research, is one of the world’s largest Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), which is established as a no-take marine protected area. The Chagos Archipelago may be one of the last tropical refuges for cetaceans. Still, we know little about their variety, distribution, and abundance in the Mid-Indian Ocean.
In collaboration with project partners from the UK and Maldives and by utilising passive acoustic monitoring and statistics, I will be aiming to understand the cetacean acoustic spatial-temporal diversity and their relationship to the Chagos Archipelago.
As the dominant species, we have a duty to act; it is taking care of this beautiful but increasingly fragile blue world.