Coastal Waters of Santa Catarina, Paranà and Sao Paolo State IMMA

Size in Square Kilometres

14 408 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Franciscana dolphin – Pontoporia blainvillei

Criterion A; C (1,2)

Lahille’s bottlenose dolphin – Tursiops truncatus gephyreus

Criterion A

Southern right whale – Eubalaena australis

Criterion A; C (1)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Criterion D (2)

Pontoporia blainvillei, Sotalia guianensis, Tursiops truncatus truncatus, Tursiops truncatus gephyreus, Steno bredanensis, Orcinus orca, Balaenoptera edeni, Eubalaena australis

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This IMMA encompasses an area of southeast Brazilian coastline between the latitudes of 23o51′ and 27o35′, from the shore out to the 30 m isobath. The coastline of this region is characterized by sandy beaches and large estuaries, and represents one of the most industrialized and populated regions in the western South Atlantic Ocean. This IMMA encompasses the range of a genetically differentiated population of the threatened franciscana (Pontoporia blainvillei) as well as a known area of sympatry for two subspecies of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), the threatened Lahille’s dolphin (T. t. gephyreus) and the common bottlenose dolphin (T. t. truncatus). In addition, southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) mother and calf pairs have been observed with increasing frequency in southeast Brazilian waters, demonstrating the potential importance of this IMMA in the continued recovery of the southwest Atlantic southern right whale population. Four additional cetacean species, Guiana dolphins (Sotalia guianensis), rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis), killer whales (Orcinus orca) and Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) are also regularly documented in the area.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The IMMA provides important habitat for franciscanas (Pontoporia blainvillei), which are endemic to coastal waters from Brazil to Argentina. This species is currently listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Zerbini et al.  2017) and as “Critically Endangered” nationally in Brazil (MMA/ICMBio 2022).

While this IMMA does not encompass the main range of the Lahille’s bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus), this subspecies is regularly observed in the area. This subspecies is listed as “Vulnerable” in the IUCN Red List (Vermeulen et al., 2019) and “Endangered” nationally in Brazil (MMA/ICMBio 2022).

Even though southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) are globally classified as “Least Concern” (Cooke and Zerbini, 2018), the western south Atlantic population of southern right whales is recognized by the International Whaling Commission as threatened and in need of a regional Conservation Management Plan (e.g. IWC, 2018).  Although the population showed significant increases following the cessation of commercial hunting, new threats, such as high rates of calf mortality, are hindering the population’s recovery.  The species is listed nationally as “Endangered” in Brazil (MMA/ICMBio, 2022).

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas

Because of their small range and year-round residency, the entire reproductive cycle of the franciscana population in this region occurs within the IMMA. Births start early in the austral spring (e.g., October) and decrease gradually until the end of austral summer (e.g., March) (Danilewicz et al. 2022).

The IMMA also seems to be hosting an increasing number of mother-calf pairs of southern right whales, which comprised 55% of all sightings recorded between 1936 and 1999 and 78% between 2000 and 2015 (Santos et al. 2001, Figueiredo et al. 2017).  Considering the observed population increase of the western south Atlantic right whales of 4.8% / year (Renault-Braga et al. 2021), the increase in mother-calf sightings in the IMMA is likely to continue along with other reproductive-related behaviours like mating, calving and nursing (e.g. Groch et al. 2005; Seyboth et al. 2015; Figueiredo et al. 2017; Renault-Braga et al. 2018).

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

Franciscanas are considered to be generalists, varying their diet according to the presence and abundance of preferred prey items. Based on the analysis of stomach contents of stranded and by-caught individuals, franciscanas occurring in this IMMA prey mainly on warm-water species, including demersal fish (e.g. Cynoscion jamaicensis) and coastal cephalopods (e.g. Doryteuthis plei) (Botta et al. 2022).

Criterion D: Special Attributes

Sub-criterion D2: Diversity

Eight cetacean species have been recorded regularly in this IMMA, which was designed to encompass the most important habitat of the most commonly occurring cetacean off the southeastern Brazilian coast (e.g. Flores & Ximenez, 1997, Figueiredo et al., 2017, Simões-Lopes et al., 2019, Azevedo, 2020, Sucunza et al. 2020, Petrobras, 2021). Franciscanas occurring in this IMMA comprise a genetically distinct population (Cunha et al. 2020). It is noteworthy that the southern portion of this candidate IMMA is an area of sympatry for two recognized subspecies of Tursiops truncatus, the Lahille’s dolphin, T. t. gephyreus, and the common bottlenose dolphin, T. t. truncatus (Simões-Lopes et al., 2019, Pereira et al. 2020). Guiana dolphins are commonly observed in this IMMA, with concentrations of observations in estuaries, bays and coastal sheltered areas up to 25 m of depth (Figueiredo et al. 2020, Domit et al. 2021). In addition, this IMMA is regularly used by rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis), killer whales (Orcinus orca) and Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni), with evidence of local movements (Santos et al. 2019) and feeding behavior for all these species (Siciliano et al. 2004, Santos et al. 2005, Santos et al. 2019). Southern right whales have been recolonisnig historical habitats, with an increasing use of the southeastern Brazilian coast during the species’ breeding season (Santos et al. 2001; Figueiredo et al. 2017).

Supporting Information

Alonso, M.B., Corcellas, C., Vidal, L. G., Bertozzi, C.P. Marigo, J., Secchi, E. R., Azevedo, A.F., Bassoi, M.,  Dorneles, P.R. ; Torres, J.P.M. ; Lailson-Brito, J., Malm, O., Eljarrat, E., Barceló, D.  2012. ‘Pyrethroids: A new threat to marine mammals?’ Environ Int 47: 99–106.

Azevedo, L.D. 2020. Estrutura espaço-temporal da população de baleias-de-bryde na Bacia de Santos: uma abordagem multimétodos [in portuguese]. MSc. dissertation. Pós-Graduação em Ecologia. Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis-SC.

Botta S., Bassoi M., Troina G.C. (2022). ‘Overview of franciscana diet’. In: Eds. M. J. Cremer and P. C. Simões-Lopes (eds.) The franciscana dolphin: On the edge of survival, pp. 15-48. San Diego: Academic Press.

de Castro, B.M., Lorenzetti, J.A., da Silveira, I.C.A. and Miranda, L.B. 2006. Estrutura termohalina e circulação na região entre o Cabo Frio (RJ) e o Chuí (RS). In C. L. D. B. Rossi-Wongtchowski and L. S-P. Madureira (eds). O Ambiente Oceanográfico da Plataforma Continental e do Talude na Região Sudeste-Sul do Brasil. Editora da Universidade de São Paulo. 472pp.  

Cooke, J. G. and Zerbini, A. N. 2018. Eubalaena australis. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e. T8153A50354147. 

Cunha, H. A., Gariboldi, M.C., Mendez, M., Secchi, E.R., Oliveira, L.R., Ott, P.H., Torres-Florez, J.P. and Farro, A.P.C. 2020. ‘Review on franciscana stock structure and Franciscana Management Areas (FMAs)’. International Whaling Commission, Scientific Committee paper SC/68b/SDDNA7

Danilewicz, D.., Denuncio, P., Secchi, E.R. and Tanios G. 2022. ‘The life history of franciscana dolphins’. In: Eds. M. J. Cremer and P. C. Simões-Lopes (eds.) The franciscana dolphin: On the edge of survival, pp. 85-109. San Diego: Academic Press.

De la Torre, A., Alonso, M.B., Martínez, M.A., Sanz, P., Shen, L., Reiner, E.J., Sanz, P., Shen, L., Reiner, E.J., Lailson-Brito, J., Torres, J.P.M., Bertozzi, C., Marigo, J., Barbosa, L., Cremer, M., Secchi, E., Malm, O., Eljarrat, E. and Barceló, D. 2012. ‘Dechlorane-Related Compounds in Franciscana Dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) from Southeastern and Southern Coast of Brazil’. Environmental Science & Technology, 46:12364–12372.doi:10.1021/es302934p

Domit, C., Caballero, S., Miranda, A.V., Fruet, P., Torres-Florez, J.P., Cunha, H.A., Farro, A.P., Azevedo, A.F., Bisi, T., Briseno, Y., Cremer, M.J., Tardin, R., Barreto, A.S., Bertozzi, C.P., Laislson-Brito, J., Barrios-Garrido, H., Belleghen, T.V., May-Collado, L.J., Tullio, J., Bracarense, A.P., Cantor, M., and Andriolo, A. 2021. ‘Report of the Sotalia guianensis Pre-Assessment Workshop: Main Results and Status of Current Knowledge’. THE JOURNAL OF CETACEAN RESEARCH AND MANAGEMENT, v. 22, p. 333-378, 2021.

Figueiredo, G., Santos, M.C.O., Siciliano, S., Moura, J.F. 2017. ‘Southern Right Whales (Eubalaena australis) in an Urbanized Area off the Southwestern Atlantic Ocean: Updated Records and Conservation Issues’. Aquatic Mammals, 43: 52-62.

Figueiredo, G.C., Amaral, K.B. and Santos, O. 2020. Cetaceans along the southeastern Brazilian coast: occurrence, distribution and niche inference at local scale. PeerJ, 8:e 10000

Flores, P.A.C., Ximenez, M. 1997. ‘Observations on the rough-toothed dolphin Steno bredanensis off Santa Catarina Island, southern Brazilian coast’. Biotemas, 10: 71-79.

Groch K, Palazzo J, Flores P, Ardler F, Fabian M. 2005. ‘Recent rapid increase in the right whale (Eubalaena australis) population off southern Brazil’. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals. 4:41–47.

IWC, 2018. Report of the Scientific Committee: Annex O: Cetacean Stocks that Are or Might be Subject of Conservation Management Plans (CMPs), International Whaling Commission, Bled, Slovenia, p. 20.

MMA/ICMBio. 2022. Lista Nacional de Espécies Ameaçacas. Ministério do Meio Ambiente.

PETROBRAS. 2021. Relatório Consolidado 1 – Ano 6. Projeto de Monitoramento de Cetáceos na Bacia de Santos (PMC-BS). Relatório técnico elaborado pela SOCIOAMBIENTAL Consultores Associados para a PETROBRAS. Florianópolis-SC. Available at: (Accessed: 8 December 2022)

Pereira, L.B., Botta, S., Teixeira, C.R., Fruet, P., Simões-Lopes, P.C. and Daura-Jorge, F.G. 2020. ‘Feeding ecology of two subspecies of bottlenose dolphin: a tooth tale’. Aquatic Ecology, 54:941-955. 

Renault-Braga E.P., Groch K.R., Flores P.A.C., et al. 2018. ‘Area usage estimation and spatiotemporal variability in distribution patterns of southern right whales, Eubalaena australis, in southern Brazil’. Marine Ecology (Berl), 39: e12506.

Renault-Braga, E.P., Groch, K.R. and Simões-Lopes, P.C. 2021b. ‘Numerical population estimates update for Southern Right Whales in Brazil’. Report of the International Whaling Commission paper SC/68C/CMP/10.

Santos, O., Siciliano, S., Souza, S.P. and Pizzorno, J.L.A. 2001. Occurrence of southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) along southeastern Brazil. Reports of the International Whaling Commission (Special Issue) 2: 153-156.

Santos, M.D.O. and Netto, D.F., 2005. ‘Killer whale (Orcinus orca) predation on a franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei) in Brazilian waters’. Latin American Journal of Aquatic Mammals, pp.69-72.

Santos, O., Laílson-Brito, J., Flach, L., Oshima, J.E.F., Figueiredo, G.C., Carvalho, R.R., Ventura, E.S., Molina, J.M.B. and Azevedo, A.F. 2019. Cetacean movements in coastal Waters of the southwestern Atlantic ocean. Biota Neotropica, 19:

Secchi, E., Santos, O. and Reeves, R. 2018. Sotalia guianensis. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Seyboth E., Groch K.R., Secchi E.R. and Dalla-Rosa L. 2015. ‘Habitat use by southern right whales, Eubalaena australis Desmoulins, 1822, in their main northern calving area in the western South Atlantic’. Marine Mammal. Science, 314: 1521-1537.

Siciliano, S., Santos, O., Vicente, C., Alvarenga, F., Zampirolli, E., Brito Jr, J.L., Azevedo, F. and Pizzorno, J.L. 2004. Strandings and feeding records of Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) in south-eastern Brazil. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 84:857-859.

Simões-Lopes, P.C., Daura-Jorge, F.G., Lodi, L., Bezamat, C., Costa, A.P. and Wedekin, L.L. 2019. ‘Bottlenose dolphin ecotypes of the western South Atlantic: the puzzle of habitats, coloration patterns and dorsal fin shapes’. Aquatic Biology, 28: 101-111. 

Sucunza, F., Danilewicz, D., Andriolo, A., Azevedo, A. F., Secchi, E. R., and Zerbini, A.N. 2020. ‘Distribution, habitat use, and abundance of the endangered franciscana in southeastern and southern Brazil’. Marine Mammal Science, 36:421–435. doi: 10.1111/mms.12650

Vermeulen, E., Fruet, P., Costa, A., Coscarella, M. & Laporta, P. 2019. Tursiops truncatus ssp. gephyreus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2019: e.T134822416A135190824.

Zerbini, A.N., Secchi, E.R., Siciliano, S. and Simöes-Lopes, P.C. 1997. A review of the occurrence and distribution of whales of the genus Balaenoptera along the Brazilian coast. Reports of the International Whaling Commission 47: 407-417.

Zerbini, A.N., Secchi, E., Crespo, E., Danilewicz, D. and Reeves, R. 2017. Pontoporia blainvillei. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.


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