Wakatobi and Adjacent Waters IMMA

Size in Square Kilometres

26 815 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Sperm whale – Physeter macrocephalus

Criterion A; C (2)

Spinner dolphin – Stenella longirostris

Criterion B (2); C (2)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Criterion D (2)

Balaenoptera musculus, Ziphius cavirostris, Peponocephala electra, Tursiops truncatus, Grampus griseus, Stenella attenuata, Stenella longirostris, Physeter macrocephalus, Balaenoptera edeni, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Tursiops aduncus

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The Wakatobi area is situated between the Banda and Flores Seas, southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia. Wakatobi and its adjacent waters are formed of the four main Tukangbesi Islands in the archipelago including Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko (Wa-ka-to-bi). This area is characterised by a highly variable submarine landscapes and channels between major islands that act as habitat for sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). This area is also an important habitat for spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), of which a significant number of individuals have been observed across multiple years of study. A concentration of both species occurs here and their habitat use has been confirmed via spatial modelling studies of their habitats. The area contains an important diversity of cetacean species for the region, of which at least 11 marine mammal species have been observed utilising the area of Wakatobi and its adjacent waters.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The Sperm whale is assessed as Vulnerable A1d (Taylor et al., 2008) on the IUCN Red List, and was targeted in historical whaling in Indonesia (Sahri et al., 2020b). In Wakatobi, the sperm whales are commonly found in the northern part of the Wangi-Wangi Islands and east part of Wakatobi waters where deep channels pass between landmasses (Sahri et al., 2020c).  Besides occupying the deep channels of Wakatobi, the species also tends to avoid shallow reefs (Sahri et al., 2021). The Indonesian government has classed sperm whales, along with all marine mammals, as a fully protected species (Government of The Republic of Indonesia, 1999; Sahri et al., 2020a).

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion B2: Aggregations

According to monitoring data from 2006-2012 conducted in the region (Sahri et al. 2020c), large aggregations of >100 individual bottlenose and spinner dolphins were frequently recorded in the area. Distribution of sightings indicate that bottlenose and spinner dolphins regularly utilize all parts of Wakatobi waters. This further indicates that Wakatobi waters and the habitats therein function to aggregate the species into groups of significant numbers.

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

The Wakatobi area has highly variable submarine landscapes with drop-offs and channels between major islands. Sperm whales are most abundant in the north of Wangi-Wangi Island (Sahri et al., 2014; 2020c) where the slope edges and drop-offs are located. These features are associated with upwelling points that force nutrient circulation, greater productivity and aggregate prey, creating a very good habitat for this squid-eating deep-diving species. From Maxent habitat modelling, the distribution of sperm whale in Wakatobi was determined by chlorophyl concentration in the area (Sahri et al., 2021). Oceanographic features (e.g. upwelling current, bathymetric slopes, thermal fronts and mesoscale eddies) support high-densities of prey. Feeding behaviour has also been observed for spinner dolphins in this area. This was validated by direct observation with this species actively feeding at surface on schooling baby skipjack tuna and anchovies. Many sightings of dolphins associated with seabird aggregations, and feeding or foraging in this area have been documented (Sahri et al. 2020c).

Criterion D: Special Attributes  

Sub-criterion D2: Diversity

The waters of Wakatobi are an important habitat for cetaceans and one of the most productive areas in the Banda Sea region, attracting a diversity of cetaceans. At least eleven common and also other rare whale and dolphin species can be observed in the area (Sahri et al. 2014; 2020c), which account for a third of the total of 33 species of cetaceans found in Indonesia (Mustika et al. 2015). In addition to sperm whales, blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) which are listed as Endangered on the Red List occur (Reilly et al. 2008). Short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus), Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra), common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), and Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni) are all recorded.

Supporting Information

Double, M.C., Andrews-Goff, V., Jenner, K.C.S., Jenner, M.N., Laverick, S.M., Branch, T.A., and Gales, N.J. 2014. Migratory Movements of Pygmy Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) between Australia and Indonesia as Revealed by Satellite Telemetry. PLoS ONE 9(4): 1-11. [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0093578

Government of The Republic of Indonesia. 1999. Peraturan Pemerintah No. 7 Tahun 1999 tentang Pengawetan Jenis Tumbuhan dan Satwa (Government Regulation No. 7/1999 on Preserving Flora and Fauna Species). [Online]. Available at: http://ksdae.menlhk.go.id/assets/uploads/Lampiran-PP-Nomor-7-Tahun-1999.pdf

Green, A. L. and Mous, P.J. 2008. Delineating the Coral Triangle, its ecoregions and functional seascapes Version 5.0. Bali and Brisbane. 44 pp. Bali: The Nature Conservancy.

Huffard, C. L., Erdmann, M. V., and Gunawan, T. 2012. Geographic priorities for marine biodiversity conservation in Indonesia. Jakarta-Indonesia. 114 pp. Jakarta: Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and Marine Protected Areas Governance Program.

Mustika, P.L., D. Sadili, A. Sunuddin, D. Kreb, Sarmintohadi, I. Ramli, D. Suprapti, J. Ratha, E. Lazuardi, H. Rasdiana, Y. Miastro, R. P. Sari, S. Annisa, N. Terry, and M. M. P. Monintja. 2015. Rencana Aksi Nasional Konservasi Cetacea Indonesia Periode I: 2016-2020 (National Action Plan for Indonesia Cetacean Conservation Periods I: 2016-2020). Jakarta-Indonesia. 76 pp. Jakarta: Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia.

Pet-Soede, L. and Erdmann, M.. 2003. Rapid Ecological Assessment Wakatobi National Park. Bali-Indonesia. 187 pp. Bali: WWF Indonesia and The Nature Conservancy.
Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S.,

Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G.P., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N. 2008. Balaenoptera musculus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T2477A9447146. [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T2477A9447146.en.

Rudolph, P., Smeenk, C., and Leatherwood, S. 1997. Preliminary checklist of cetacea in the Indonesian Archipelago and adjacent waters. Zoologische Verhandelingen, 312: 3-48. [Online]. Available at:http://www.repository.naturalis.nl/record/317830

Sahri, A., Santosa, H., and Purwanto. 2014. Sebaran Setasea Berdasarkan Pengamatan Insidental Jangka Panjang di Taman Nasional Wakatobi: Apakah informasi yang diperoleh cukup berarti untuk pengelolaan dan konservasi?’ (Cetacean Distribution Based on Long-Term Occasional Observation in Wakatobi NP: Is the information obtained sufficient meaningful for the management and conservation?) paper delivered at the 3rd Annual National Seminar on Fisheries and Marine Research, Semarang-Indonesia, 2 November 2013.

Sahri, A., Mustika, P.L.K., Dewanto, H.Y., and Murk, A.J. 2020a. A critical review of marine mammal governance and protection in Indonesia. Marine Policy, 117C: 103893. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.103893

Sahri, A., Putra, M.I.H., Mustika, P.L.K. and Murk, A.J. 2020b. A treasure from the past: Former sperm whale distribution in Indonesian waters unveiled using
distribution models and historical whaling data. Journal of Biogeography, 7(10): 2102-2116. https://doi.org/10.1111/jbi.13931

Sahri, A., Mustika, P.L.K., Purwanto, P., Murk, A.J., and Scheidat, M. 2020c. Using cost-effective surveys from platforms of opportunity to assess cetacean
occurrence patterns for marine park management in the heart of the Coral Triangle. Frontiers in Marine Science, 7: 569936. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2020.569936

Sahri, A., Putra, M.I.H., Mustika, P.L.K., Kreb, D., and Murk, A.J. 2021. Cetacean habitat modelling to inform conservation management, marine spatial planning, and as a basis for anthropogenic threat mitigation in Indonesia. Ocean and Coastal Management, 205: 105555. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2021.105555

Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L. 2008. Physeter macrocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41755A10554884. [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T41755A10554884.en.

Wakatobi National Park. 2008. Rencana Pengelolaan Taman Nasional Wakatobi 1998-2023 (Management Plan of Wakatobi National Park 1998-2023). Baubau-Indonesia. 98 pp. Baubau: Wakatobi National Park.


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