[MARMAM] New publication: Distribution and densities of marine megafauna in three subregions of the South Pacific

sophie laran sophie.laran at univ-lr.fr
Tue Jan 2 02:11:39 PST 2024

Dear MARMAM community,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to share with you our new 
publication "*Who lives in the open sea? Distribution and densities of 
surfacing marine megafauna in three subregions of the South Pacific (New 
Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, and French Polynesia)*" available in 
open-access at:



Assessing the distribution and abundance of marine fauna and the 
ecological status of coastal and pelagic ecosystems is key to 
biodiversity conservation, but the monitoring of mobile marine species 
raises multiple logistical and financial challenges.


The project describes the distribution, abundance and taxonomic 
assemblage of several marine megafauna taxa in three subregions of the 
western and central South Pacific Ocean (New Caledonia, Wallis and 
Futuna, and French Polynesia).


Large-scale aerial surveys were conducted using a standardised 
multi-taxon protocol, to characterise the occurrence and abundance of 
marine megafauna over 2.5 million km^2 . Analysing more than 122 000 km 
of transects, the densities of 22 different taxa were estimated: seven 
taxonomic groups of marine mammals (Physeteridae, Kogiidae, Ziphiidae, 
Globicephalinae, Small Delphininae, Large Delphininae, and Dugongidae), 
a single group for hard-shelled sea turtles, three groups of 
elasmobranchs (including whale sharks), and 11 groups of seabirds 
(including Phaethontidae, Hydrobatidae, Fregatidae and Sulidae).

*Key results*

Contrasting patterns of species distribution were found. Marine mammal 
diversity increases north and west, with a distinct species assemblage 
in New Caledonia, compared to other subregions. A strong latitudinal 
gradient was observed across French Polynesia, independent of taxa.


This study provides the first comparison of marine species assemblages 
across the three oceanic subregions and sets a regional baseline for the 
biogeography of marine megafauna in the region.


The taxonomic and spatial extension of the results opens up new 
perspectives for the development of local conservation measures, 
especially for taxa with already documented population declines.

*Keywords:*aerial survey, cetacean, dugong, elasmobranch, marine mammal, 
marine megafauna, seabird, sea turtle, Southwest Pacific Ocean.

Best regards and Happy New Year !!



Sophie Laran
Observatoire PELAGIS, UAR 3462 (La Rochelle Université - CNRS)
TEL : +33 (0)5 46 44 99 10 (STD) /+33 (0)5 16 49 67 15 (LD)

Suivre la campagne MAMO: 

Observatoire PELAGIS
*La Rochelle Université*
Centre commun d'analyse
5 allée de l'océan
17000 La Rochelle
www.observatoire-pelagis.cnrs.fr <http://www.observatoire-pelagis.cnrs.fr>

univ-larochelle.fr <http://www.univ-larochelle.fr>

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