As part of the SDRP mission, we provide training opportunities for scientists and workers from outside of the United States.
This training allows foreign scientists to participate in SDRP field and laboratory research activities, work with staff, and discuss ways to apply research to conservation efforts back home.
These training opportunities have be made possible by support from Chicago Zoological Society,Batchelor Foundation support to the Chicago Zoological Society, Disney Animal Programs, Dolphin Quest, Fulbright, Mote Marine Laboratory, the Reynolds Foundation, and private donations.
Click below to read about recent international visitors and their work.
The Endangered Ganges River dolphins occur throughout the river system of Bangladesh. They are most commonly seen near confluences. A number
of different cetaceans are seen in the estuarine and coastal waters, but research and conservation efforts are still in their early stages.
Rubaiyat Fahrni Mansur received funding to begin photo-identification work in winter of 2005-2006. Having limited experience, he and his wife came to the SDRP for a summer visit.
They worked with the SDRP staff to learn field research, record keeping techniques, and they participated in on-going projects. They also had the opportunity to interact with Mote Marine Lab staff to learn about the sea turtle program, educational outreach, and the stranding network.
Mr. and Mrs Mansur have taken what they learned back home with the intention of adapting it to their local conditions.
Farther offshore in habitat influenced by freshwater inputs the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin is found.
We continue to be involved in a joint effort with Mote Marine Laboratory to provide field training for scientists with the University of Havana and National Aquarium.
Cuba is one of only three countries surrounding the Gulf of Mexico, and we need to work with Cuban scientists to better understand the biodiversity of the Gulf, and the status of its biota.
To this end, we have developed a plan for training Cuban scientists in field research techniques to studying sharks and dolphins.
Long delayed by political obstacles, a first step was accomplished in 2007 with the completion of a course in Isla Mujeres, Mexico, attended by both Cuban and Mexican scientists and students. In 2010, a scientist with Cuba’s National Aquarium worked with SDRP staff in Sarasota to learn what opportunities are available for other Cuban scientists..
Support for this program, administered through Mote Marine Laboratory, is provided by the Reynolds Foundation.
Ganges River Dolphins
Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary
The Ganges River dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica) is the flagship species and indicator of the health of River Ganga, on which millions of people depend for their livelihood.
Dr. Sunil Choudhary, PhD, is the Principal Coordinator of Vikramshila Biodiversity Research & Education Center (VBREC) at T.M. Bhagalpur University. He leads a team of research conservationist working since 1998 in Vikramshila Gangetic Dolphin Sanctuary (VGDS) in India. This is the only designated protected area for this endangered river dolphin in Asia.
VBREC research and education efforts to protect the Ganges River dolphin have led to increases in the VGDS dolphin population from 95 – 98 in 1998 to 175+ in 2008. The hope is that the continued efforts will be a model for other areas of Asia.
Visiting with support from the Fulbright Commission, Dr. Choudhary spent two months working with SDRP staff as a colleague-participant on various projects.
He learned about boat surveys, data collection, photo analysis to verify dolphin identifications, prey species research, focal animal follows, sick dolphin rehabilitation (at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Dolphin and Whale hospital), and necropsy procedures with associated record keeping.
The Brahmaputra River system.
The Brahmaputra River system in India is one of the major habitats of the Gangetic dolphin (Platanista gangetica gangetica), which is an endangered species of freshwater dolphin found in India, Nepal, and Bangladesh.
The species has been declining at a rapid rate over the past two decades, to only a few hundred individuals today.
Dr. Abdul Wakid, PhD, has been leading the conservation efforts of the Gangetic Dolphin Research and Conservation Programme of Aaranyak, since it’s inception in 2004.
He came to the SDRP to learn the latest research techniques and spent two months working with the staff. He worked with seven different research projects: juvenile study, depredation study, biopsy darting, prey-base study, dolphin monitoring, necropsy, and acoustics.
Besides the SDRP scientists, he also interacted with colleagues from Argentina, Mexico, Switzerland, Ireland, Scotland, Italy, USA, UK, and Japan.
He felt that techniques learned in Sarasota are likely to be effective in Gangetic dolphin research and conservation in India.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins
The TREE Foundation has trained fishermen as a Sea Turtle Protection Force (STPF) in India. STPF staff also started recording observations of the Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphins along the near shore areas of the coast.
Dr. Supraja Dharini, PhD, of the Tree Foundations visited Sarasota for two months to improve her research knowledge and skills.
With the SDRP she was exposed to both field and lab activities for dolphin research. She reported that the lessons learned about field observations were applicable to dolphin research as well as to sea turtle and marine conservation programs.
With the assistance of SDRP program manager, Dr. Randy Wells, she worked out a methodology for a pilot study of the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins along coast of South East India. Hopefully, this will shed light on the population structure of dolphins along the coast and help in the conservation and management of the species.
Since sea turtle conservation was the prime focus of the TREE Foundation, she also learned satellite tagging for sea turtles with Mote Marine Lab’s Sea Turtle Conservation and Research Program. Dr. Dharini helped install satellite-linked tags on four loggerhead turtles, and she hopes to use the same techniques in India.
All photos © Sarasota Dolphin Research Program under NMFS permit #522-1785