Abundance, spatial distribution and threats to Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in an Important Marine Mammal Area in Tanzania

Magreth Kasuga, Modest Varisanga, Tim Davenport, Narriman Jiddawi, Gill Braulik*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

Abundance estimates of cetaceans in the western Indian Ocean are rare, but important, as many cetacean populations are under threat, especially those in coastal habitats. This study aimed to generate first estimates of abundance for Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), assessed as Near Threatened on the IUCN Red List, in an area identified by the Marine Mammal Protected Area Task Force as an ‘Important Marine Mammal Area’. Two study sites were surveyed along the east and west coastlines of the Pemba Channel, Tanzania. In west Pemba, between 2014 and 2016 four boat-based visual surveys conducted a total of 2467 km of survey effort sighting a total of 16 groups of T. aduncus in west Pemba. Abundance was estimated using mark-recapture models of photo-identified individuals as 89 animals (CV 7.7%, 95% CI 72-103) in the 1084km2 study area. In the Tanga study area in 2016 two boat-based visual surveys covered 1254 km of effort during which 15 groups of T. aduncus were sighted, resulting in a photo-ID based mark-recapture abundance estimate of 177 individuals (CV 8.6%, 95% CI 150-210) in the 1562 km2 study site. Group encounter rate for this species in Tanga was double that recorded in the Pemba study site. A total of 23% of identified dolphins bore the scars of interactions with fishing gear.
Original languageEnglish
Article number215382
Number of pages14
JournalWestern Indian Ocean Journal of Marine Science
Volume21
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin
  • Tursiops aduncus
  • Abundance
  • Photo-identification
  • Important marine mammal area
  • Western Indian ocean

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