[MARMAM] New publication: Indian Ocean humpback dolphin movement patterns in South Africa

Els Vermeulen elsvermeulen5 at gmail.com
Fri Nov 17 00:43:40 PST 2017

Dear colleagues,

On behalf of all the co-authors, we are pleased to announce the new
publication regarding the movement patterns of Indian Ocean humpback
dolphins in South Africa.

Vermeulen E, Bouveroux T, Plön S, Atkins S, Chivell W, Cockcroft V, Conry
D, Genarri E, Hörbst S, James BS, Kirkman S, Penry G, Pistorius P, Thornton
M, Vargas Fonseca A, Elwen S. 2017. Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (*Sousa
plumbea*) movement patterns along the South African coast. Aquatic
Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 2017:1-10. DOI:


The Indian Ocean humpback dolphin was recently uplisted to ‘Endangered’ in
the recent South African National Red List assessment. Abundance estimates
are available from a number of localized study sites, but knowledge of
movement patterns and population linkage between these sites is poor. A
national research collaboration, the SouSA project, was established in 2016
to address this key knowledge gap. Twenty identification catalogues
collected between 2000 and 2016 in 13 different locations were collated and
Photographs of 526 humpback dolphins (all catalogues and photos) were
reduced to 337 individuals from 12 locations after data selection. Of
these, 90 matches were found for 61 individuals over multiple sites,
resulting in 247 uniquely, well‐marked humpback dolphins identified in
South Africa.
Movements were observed along most of the coastline studied. Ranging
distances had a median value of 120 km and varied from 30 km up to 500 km.
Long‐term site fidelity was also evident in the data. Dolphins ranging
along the south coast of South Africa seem to form one single population at
the western end of the species' global range.
Current available photo‐identification data suggested national abundance
may be well below previous estimates of 1000 individuals, with numbers
possibly closer to 500. Bearing in mind the poor conservation status of the
species in the country, the development of a national Biodiversity
Management Plan aimed at ensuring the long‐term survival of the species in
South Africa is strongly recommended. At the same time, increased research
efforts are essential, particularly to allow for an in‐depth assessment of
population numbers and drivers of changes therein.
The present study clearly indicates the importance of scientific
collaboration when investigating highly mobile and endangered species.

This work has been a collaborative effort of all relevant researchers in
the country and has proven to be a great success.
To request an electronic copy, please contact me at elsvermeulen5 at gmail.com.

Kind regards,

On behalf of the South African SouSA Consortium

Els Vermeulen, PhD
Research Manager and Post-doctoral research fellow
Mammal Research Institute Whale Unit
Department of Zoology and Entomology
University of Pretoria, South Africa

Co-founding director Whalefish -www.whalefish.org
PI Sea Search - www.seasearch.co.za

Cell: +27 (0)60 9714301
Email: elsvermeulen5 at gmail.com
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