Research Papers

Distribution, behaviour and photo-identification of Atlantic humpback dolphins Sousa teuszii off Flamingos, Angola


Abstract

Atlantic humpback dolphins Sousa teuszii are a priority for research due to their restricted geographic range, narrow ecological niche and the paucity of existing information. The distribution and behaviour of S. teuszii off Flamingos, southern Angola, was investigated during summer and winter 2008 using boat- and shore-based surveys. In all, 71 S. teuszii sightings were recorded, ranging from one to eight animals. Sousa teuszii inhabited shallow, nearshore waters throughout the region, with the exception of southern areas adjacent to fishing villages. Small bays, sheltered waters behind reef-breaks and areas off dry river mouths were used for foraging/feeding behaviour, whereas most travelling occurred along exposed coast. Ten individual S. teuszii were photo-identified. Multiple resightings (and absence of unmarked animals) indicate that all individuals present at the time of the surveys were photocaptured, exhibited high site fidelity and had year-round occurrence. Association indices of 0.77-1.0 indicated strong social affiliation between eight individuals, particularly in winter. Off Flamingos, S. teuszii occurs in small numbers and exhibits high site fidelity to a relatively small stretch of nearshore habitat, making the species vulnerable to local extirpation. Wider-scale surveys and development of a management plan are crucial to ensuring the long-term conservation of S. teuszii off Flamingos.

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