Marine Biodiversity Records
Angola, sousa teuszii, Atlantic humpback dolphin, West Africa, Bottlenose dolphin, tursiops truncatus, Balaenoptera brydei, Humpback whale, Megaptera novaeangliae
Little marine mammal research has been carried out along the West African coastline, and the cetacean fauna is consequently poorly documented. Namibe Province in southern Angola was the site of several historical whaling stations, but current knowledge of the occurrence of large whales and odontocete species is lacking. A dedicated cetacean study was carried out off Flamingos, Namibe Province during the austral summer and winter of 2008. A total of 1161.2 km (96.5 hours) of boat-based search effort, 531.8 km (49.2 hours) of vehicle-based search effort and 46.6 hours of fixed-site survey effort was collected, during which 148 cetacean sightings were recorded. The 143 positively-identified sightings comprised Atlantic humpback dolphin Sousa teuszii (N=71), bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus (N=24), Bryde’s whale Balaenoptera cf. brydei (N=37) and humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae (N=11). The Atlantic humpback dolphin occurred similarly in both summer and winter and occupied a strictly nearshore habitat usually within 300 m of the coast. Both the absolute number of sightings and the sighting rate of bottlenose dolphins were higher during the winter than the summer. Bryde’s whale was present only during the summer survey. While present during both survey periods, humpback whales were more numerous during the winter. The dataset increases knowledge of the cetaceans occurring off southern Angola. However, further survey work is required to clarify the distribution, ecology and potential threats to cetacean species in the region.