Waters of New Caledonia and Loyalty Islands IMMA

Area Size

155 056 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Sperm whale – Physeter macrocephalus

Criterion A

Humpback Whale – Megaptera novaeangliae

Criterion A

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Criterion D (2)

Ziphius cavirostris, Indopacetus pacificus, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Tursiops truncatus, Kogia sima, Kogia breviceps, Grampus griseus, Balaenoptera omurai, Stenella attenuata, Mesoplodon densirostris, Peponocephala electra, Stenella longirostris, Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda, Balaenoptera bonaerensis, Feresa attenuata, Pseudorca crassidens, Balaenoptera borealis, Orcinus orca

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The IMMA is located in the Natural Park of the Coral Sea which covers most of the Exclusive Economic Zone of New Caledonia. It encompasses oceanic waters, East and South of the main island up to the Loyalty Islands. This IMMA includes several habitats, including shallow banks, slope, seamounts and abyssal plain habitats. A very high diversity of marine mammals, 29 species, is known from the waters of New Caledonia, and more than 20 species including the recently described Omura’s whale, occur within the IMMA. Results of a large aerial survey confirmed the high diversity of the New Caledonian pelagic waters.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

Historical and opportunistic data on sperm whales show that they are present year-round in the area with no evidence of seasonal variation in their habitat located in the oceanic waters close to the barrier reef (Poupon & Garrigue, 2011). Sperm whales are classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN red list. The group of humpback whales migrating to New Caledonia belong to the subpopulation of Oceania which is classified as Endangered by IUCN (Childerhouse et al. 2009).

Criterion D: Special Attributes  

Sub-criterion D2: Diversity

The Remmoa large aerial survey covered 40,500 km of transects over 544,000km² (40% of the EEZ) of oceanic waters surrounding the main Island and Loyalty Islands between October to December 2014 (Laran et al., 2016). The diversity, in number of species or taxa observed during this survey was high with 19 different species recorded (Laran et al. 2016). Abundances estimated (uncorrected for bias) during the survey for the entire area were: 9,800 individuals (CI 95% 2,000 – 49,000) for pantropical spotted and spinner dolphins; 9,000 individuals (CI 95% 3,300 – 24,600) for common bottlenose dolphins (and possible unidentified rough-toothed or Fraser’s dolphins). 7 500 individuals (CI 95% 1,300 – 44,200) for melon-headed whales and possible pygmy killer whales; 2,000 Risso’s dolphins (CI 95% 300 – 4,400); 8,200 individuals (CI 95% 3,700 – 18,400) for short-finned pilot whales (a possible false killer whales); 3,000 beaked whales (CI 95% 1,300 – 7,800) and about 800 individuals (CI 95% 200- 3,000) respectively for kogiidae and for sperm whale.

Supporting Information

Borsa, P., Hoarau, G. 2004. A pygmy blue whale (Cetacea: Balaenopteridae) in the inshore waters of New Caledonia. Pacific Science 58:579-584

Childerhouse, S., Jackson, J., Baker, C.S., Gales, N., Clapham, P.J., Brownell Jr, R.L. 2009. Megaptera novaeangliae (Oceania subpopulation). In: IUCN 2009. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2009.2. www.iucnredlist.org.

Clua, E., Manire, C.A., Garrigue, C. 2014. Biological Data of Pygmy Killer Whale (Feresa attenuata) from a Mass Stranding in New Caledonia (South Pacific) Associated with Hurricane Jim in 2006. Aquatic Mammals 40 (2), 162-172.

Garrigue, C., Boillon, D., Dodemont, R., Pérard, V., Poupon, M., Schaffar, A. 2012. Rapport de la mission d’étude des baleines à bosse effectuée à Lifou en 2012.

Garrigue, C., Oremus, M., Dodémont, R., Bustamante, P., Kwiatek, O., Libeau, G., Lockyer, C., Vivier, J.C., Dalebout, M.L. 2016. A mass stranding of seven Longman’s beaked whales (Indopacetus pacificus) in New Caledonia, South Pacific. Marine Mammal Science 32:884-910

Garrigue, C., Poupon, M. 2013. Guide des mammifères marins de Nouvelle-Calédonie. Editon Opération Cétacés, Nouvelle-Calédonie, 128p.

Garrigue, C., Poupon, M., Boillon, D., Dodemont, R., Pérard, V., Freyer, J. 2013. Rapport de la mission d’étude des baleines à bosse effectuée à Ouvéa en 2013. Opération Cétacés. 49 p.

Garrigue, C., Clapham, P.J., Geyer, Y., Kennedy, A.S., Zerbini, A.N. 2015. Satellite tracking reveals novel migratory patterns and the importance of seamounts for endangered South Pacific humpback whales. Royal Society open Science, 2 150489; DOI: 10.1098/rsos.150489. Published 25 November 2015

Laran, S., Hamani, V., Authier, M., Dorémus, G., Van Canneyt, O., Ridoux, V., Watremez, P. 2016. Distribution et abondance de la mégafaune marine dans le sud-ouest du Pacifique. Campagne REMMOA – Nouvelle-Calédonie et Wallis et Futuna

Olavarría, C., Baker, C.S., Garrigue, C., Poole, M., Hauser, N., Caballero, S., Flórez-González, L., Brasseur, M., Bannister, J., Capella, J., Clapham, P., Dodemont, R., Donoghue, M., Jenner, J., Jenner, M.N., Moro, D., Oremus, M., Paton, D., Rosenbaum, H., Russell, K. 2007. Population structure of humpback whales throughout the South Pacific and the origin of the eastern Polynesian breeding grounds. Marine Ecology Progress Series 330:257-268

Poupon, M., Garrigue, C. 2011. First assessment of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) in the EEZ waters of New Caledonia (South Pacific). European Cetacean Society, Barcelona, Spain

Van Canneyt, O., Dorémus, G., Garrigue, C., Hébert, O., Laran, S., Watremez, P., Ridoux, V. 2016. New insight on Marine Mammals of the Southwest Pacific Ocean: Part I – Large aerial survey (REMMOA) in the New Caledonia 30th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society, Funchal, Portugal.


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