[Note: This is the fourth blog in a series about the WCS-led marine megafauna survey, which is gathering data on whales, sea turtles, sharks, and other marine species inhabiting the coastal waters of Bangladesh. Data from the effort will identify biologically important locations for future consideration as marine protected areas.]
In 2011, I was in the middle of completing my post graduate degree in Nha Trang, Vietnam. I attended class every day to study fisheries management, hoping and wishing that sometime in the future, I would be out in the field using my expertise to help to make sustainability a reality.
Seven years later, I am now back in my home country to help lead an effort to establish a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) for conserving the rich marine biodiversity of Bangladesh, a country that supports fisheries sustaining livelihoods for 50 million people living along the country’s 750-kilometer coast.
I AM NOW BACK IN MY HOME COUNTRY TO HELP LEAD AN EFFORT TO ESTABLISH A NETWORK OF MARINE PROTECTED AREAS (MPAS) FOR CONSERVING THE RICH MARINE BIODIVERSITY OF BANGLADESH. CREDIT: WCS BANGLADESH.
The first phase of this effort is to conduct a comprehensive survey of marine megafauna, including dolphins, porpoises, whales, sharks, rays and marine turtles, and investigate fisheries that entangle and kill these threatened species. Covering the entire coast of Bangladesh, the overall goal of this survey is to use this information to identify potential sites for new protected areas. So far the survey has been the most exciting and possibly the most intense experience of my life.
When I first laid eyes on the two survey boats, I had mixed feelings: a gripping fear of sea sickness, and the excitement of being able to actually see the marine megafauna I had studied about in school. The first thing that struck me was the amazingly job our team did to modify the boats to safely and comfortably accommodate our entire survey team.
They built a covered space for sleeping and storing equipment along with a kitchen and basic bathroom facilities. They also equipped both vessels with a VHF radio to communicate with each other.