[MARMAM] Two new publications on marine mammals in Iran

Gill Braulik gtb7 at st-andrews.ac.uk
Fri May 14 01:40:15 PDT 2010

The following two papers on marine mammals in Iran were published last
month.  Please email Gillbraulik at downstream.vg if you would like a pdf of
either one.


Braulik, G. T., Savadkouhi, O. S., Fadakar, S., Mohammadi, H., Brownell Jr.,
R. L., Reeves, R. R., Nabavi, M. B. and Fernandez, A. 2010. A retrospective
investigation of two dolphin mass mortality events in Iran, Autumn 2007.
Zoology in the Middle East. 49:13-26.


During the autumn of 2007, two mass mortality events involving at least 152
small cetaceans were reported from southern Iran. Both events occurred on
the Gulf of Oman coast near the town of Bandar Jask, and were separated by a
month in time and more than 170 km in distance.


The first event, on 20 September 2007, involved 79 animals, probably all
spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris). Dead animals, all exhibiting a
similar degree of decomposition, drifted to shore along 13 km of coastline
over a period of approximately 24 hours. These circumstances suggest that
the mortality was caused by a single acute event at sea.  Several carcasses
had evidence of traumatic injuries, the stranding event was spatially and
temporally coincident with an active fishing ground, and other potentially
bycaught and discarded species were found on the beach.  This pattern is
generally consistent with the hypothesis that the dolphin mortality was
caused by fishing operations, although the available data are insufficient
to confirm that hypothesis unequivocally. 


On 24 October 2007 there was a mass stranding of 73 live striped dolphins
(Stenella coeruleoalba).  The striped dolphin is a pelagic species believed
to be rare in the Gulf of Oman.  The most likely explanation for this mass
stranding is that the dolphin group was trapped by a falling tide among the
complex sandbanks of the Kangan estuary. Striped dolphins are not normally
found in shallow water or near shore, and their occurrence in this area is
considered unusual. The factor or factors that caused them to enter this
atypical habitat remain unknown.


The two mass mortality events involved different species and exhibited many
different characteristics; there is no evidence to suggest that they were
linked.  As the cetacean fauna of Iran is little known, it is hoped that the
great national and international interest generated by these events will
enhance Iran's capacity and motivation for research and conservation of
marine mammals.  


Braulik, G. T., Ranjbar, S., Owfi, F., Aminrad, T., Dakhteh, S. M. H.,
Kamrani, E. and Mohsenizadeh, F. 2010. Marine mammal records from Iran.
Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 11 (1):49-63.


Iran has 1,700km of coastline that borders the Persian Gulf and the Arabian
Sea in the northwest Indian Ocean.  Apart from a handful of records, almost
nothing is known about which marine mammal species occur in Iranian waters.
This review was conducted to fill this information gap.  A total of 127
marine mammal records of 14 species were compiled from Iranian coastal
waters.  Ninety-nine were from the Persian Gulf, 26 from the Gulf of Oman
and 2 were of unknown location.  Records of finless porpoise (Neophocaena
phocaenoides) (25), Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) (24) and
Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) (22) were by far the most
numerous, a probable reflection of their inshore distribution and local
abundance. Other species recorded were long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus
capensis tropicalis), rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis), striped
dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris),
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), false killer whale (Pseudorca
crassidens), sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) and dugong (Dugong dugon).
Records of 26 Mysticetes were compiled, 10 of which were tentatively
identified as Bryde's whales (Balaenoptera edeni), 1 possible fin whale
(Balaenoptera physalus), 3 Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) and the
remainder were not identified to species.  The largest threat to small
cetaceans in Iran is likely to be incidental capture in fishing gear.  Nine
finless porpoises were recorded as bycatch and this and other coastal
species may be declining due to unsustainable mortality rates.  Some of the
world's busiest shipping lanes pass through Iranian waters and ship strikes
are likely to be the largest threat to Mysticetes in the area. 





Gill Braulik

Sea Mammal Research Unit

Scottish Oceans Institute

University of St. Andrews

St. Andrews, Fife, UK

KY16 8LB

Mob: +44 7530900550


Research Fellow

Pakistan Wetlands Programme

House 3, Street 4,  Sector F7/2

Islamabad, Pakistan












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