The cetaceans (whales and dolphins) of Angola


Weir, Caroline R.



Book Title

Biodiversity of Angola: Science & Conservation: A Modern Synthesis

Place Published







Angola, Atlantic, Africa, diversity, distribution, habitat, benguela System, sousa teuszii, Atlantic humpback dolphin


The history of whale and dolphin (cetacean) research in Angolan waters is scant. Prior to the 2000s it primarily consisted of information from historical (1700s to the 1920s) and modern (1920s–1970s) whaling catches, from which baleen whales and the sperm whale were confirmed. Very few species were added to Angola’s cetacean checklist between the whaling era and the 2000s. However, observations since 2003 have confirmed Angola as a range state for at least 28 species, comprising seven baleen whales, two sperm whale species, at least two beaked whales, and at least 17 delphinids. There is potential for approximately seven more species to be identified in the region based on their known worldwide distributions. Angola has one of the most diverse cetacean faunas in Africa, and indeed worldwide, due to its varied seabed topography and transitional ocean climate which supports both (sub)tropical species and those associated with the Benguela Current. While no cetacean species are truly endemic to Angola, the country is one of few confirmed range states for the Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphin and the Benguela-endemic Heaviside’s dolphin. Those species, together with endangered baleen whales and breeding populations of sperm and humpback whales, are highlighted as conservation priorities.