Berau and East Kutai District, Kalimantan IMMA

Size in Square Kilometres

19 470 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Irrawaddy dolphin – Orcaella brevirostris

Criterion A; B (1); C (1)

Sperm whale – Physeter macrocephalus

Criterion A; C (2)

Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin – Sousa chinensis

Criterion A; C (1, 2)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Criterion D (2)

Balaenoptera omurai, Balaenoptera physalus, Delphinus delphis, Dugong dugon, Feresa attenuata, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Grampus griseus, Kogia sima, Kogia breviceps, Lagenodelphis hosei, Megaptera novaeangliae, Neophocaena phocaenoides, Orcinus orca, Peponocephala electra, Pseudorca crassidens, Stenella longirostris, Stenella attenuata, Stenella coeruleoalba, Tursiops aduncus, Steno bredanensis, Tursiops truncatus, Ziphius cavirostris

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The area has a high importance for at least 25 identified cetacean species (70% of all cetacean species present in Indonesia) and one Sirenian species. The area covers two districts, i.e. Berau and East Kutai of which the first is a Protected Marine Park. The areas encompass both estuaries and bay areas that provide habitat to two species including the Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) and the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis). Irrawaddy dolphins are known to have a year-round presence in the IMMA. Surveys conducted between 2003, 2007-2008 and 2013-2017 showed that most species are sighted near islands and reefs. Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) have been observed feeding at different locations throughout the IMMA range during all survey periods (March-August, October, except for December).  Omura’s (Balaenoptera omurai) and fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus) were observed feeding in nearshore narrow shelf habitat with steep slope in months  March-June, the former species over different years.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

Criterion A applies as the Irrawaddy dolphin is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List. Criterion A also applies to Sperm whales and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion B1: Small and Resident Populations

Irrawaddy dolphin populations that locally occur in the region are small and occupy small areas in relation to the species’ global population. They occupy specific niche habitats within the IMMA such as estuaries and bays where they are observed throughout the years of study. They have never been observed in coastal habitat outside of these estuarine or bay habitats and therefore it is suspected that these form discrete populations. The two areas where they have been observed in the IMMA is in the Berau Delta and Sangkulirang Bay. These locations are separated by the Tanjung Mangkalihat Peninsula, which has a very narrow shelf with a steep bathymetric drop off to 1km, and Irrawaddy dolphins here but also in other parts of Kalimantan and Indonesia have never been observed in waters deeper than 100m.

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas

Criterion C1 applies as the locally occurring Irrawaddy population only occupies the bays and estuaries within the IMMA, where they occur year-round with young calves having been observed within groups (as well as mating behaviour) (Kreb, 2008). Calves of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis, have been observed in the month of April with total best-estimated group sizes between 11 to 15 individuals (Kreb, 2008).

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

Sperm whales have been recorded to undertake repeated long-dives and respiration behaviour has been observed for sperm whales during 5 out of 8 sightings at more or less similar locations. These observations indicate the likely feeding activities.  A maximum of 6 sperm whales have been observed, with observations in the months of May, June, August, and October. Sousa chinensis was also observed in April 2008 to be mud feeding in the Berau estuary, and were observed several times to perform head stands with their tailstock vertical out of the water while shaking their body.

Criterion D: Special Attributes  

Sub-criterion D2: Diversity

25 species of cetaceans and one sirenian species have been observed in this IMMA. These include Omura’s whale, Fin whale, Long-beaked common dolphin, Common dolphin, Dugong, Pygmy killer whale, Short-finned pilot whale, Risso’s dolphin, Dwarf sperm whale, Pygmy sperm whale, Fraser’s dolphin, Humpback whale, Indo-Pacific finless porpoise, Irrawaddy dolphin, Killer whale, Melon-headed whale, Sperm whale, False killer whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Gray’s spinner dolphin, Dwarf spinner dolphin, Pantropical spotted dolphin, Striped dolphin, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin, Rough-toothed dolphin, Common bottlenose dolphin, Cuvier’s beaked whale.

Supporting Information

Kreb, D. and Budiono, I. 2004. ‘Biodiversity assessment of cetaceans and mantas near the Berau Islands, East Kalimantan, Indonesia’. Provisional Final Report for the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).

Kreb, D. and Budiono, I. 2005. ‘Cetacean Diversity and Habitat Preferences in Tropical Waters of East Kalimantan, Indonesia’. The Raffles Bulletin of Zoology 53 (1), 149-155.

Kreb, D., Budiono, I. and Pitman, R.L. 2008. ‘Sulawesi Sea Cetacean Project 2007-2008. Conservation and diversity of marine cetaceans in the Berau Archipelago, East Kalimantan, Indonesia’. Final technical report.

Kreb, D., Budiono, I. and Syachraini. 2012. ‘East Kalimantan Cetacean Conservation Project 2009-2012. Conservation and diversity of cetaceans within a new potential MPA in East Kalimantan, Indonesia’. Final technical report.

Kreb, D. and Budiono, I. 2015. ‘Berau Cetacean Conservation Project 2013-2014. Cetacean species identification, distribution and relative abundance in the northern part of Derawan Islands Marine Park’. Final technical report.


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