Western Indian Ocean and Arabian Seas

Regional Coordinators: Gill Braulik, Violaine Dulau, Gianna Minton

Cetacean research and conservation networks operating in the region:

The Western Indian Ocean and Arabian Seas IMMA identification workshop took place on March 4th-8th 2019. The workshop was held in Salalah, Oman, and involved 38 marine mammal scientists and observers from 15 countries, with several more scientists contributing to assessments and proposals remotely.

The final report of the workshop can be downloaded from here.

A total of  55 candidate important marine mammal areas, (cIMMAs) were identified which is the largest number proposed from a single workshop to date. Thirteen areas of interest (AoI)  were identified as areas where further research is merited.  The cIMMA proposals have now undergone peer review, and 37 new IMMAs have now been added to the eAtlas.

An Omura’s whale mother and calf off the coast of Madagascar (Sal Cerchio)

The West Indian Ocean and Arabian Seas region hosts a wide diversity of habitats and marine mammal species, including endangered humpback dolphins, endangered blue whale subpopulations, the rarest humpback whales in the world – the Arabian Sea humpback whale, and the largest known numbers of Omura’s whale, a cryptic 10m long tropical whale only recently identified as a species by scientists. The region is also home to vulnerable populations of dugongs, that persist in pockets along the coasts of East Africa, the Middle East, and West Asia. A recent mission was made by a Task Force delegation to Mozambique to support the protection of a threatened population of dugongs in the “Bazaruto Archipelago to Inhambane Bay Important Marine Mammal Area IMMA” – the last viable dugong population in East Africa. The mission’s report can be dowloaded from here.

An Arabian Sea humpback whale (Environment Society of Oman)

Spinner dolphin off the coast of Reunion (Violaine Dulau)

Indian Ocean Humpback dolphins off the coast of Zanzibar (Gill Braulik)