Kélibia IMMA

Area Size

348 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Common bottlenose dolphin – Tursiops truncatus

Criterion A; B (i); C (i, ii)

Summary

The coastal waters of Kélibia, around the Cap Bon Peninsula in Northeast Tunisia, supports a resident population of Vulnerable Mediterranean common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). The dolphins consistently occupy the area and appear to have long-term site fidelity. These dolphins interact frequently with the fishing gear and depredation has been documented, causing damage to gear. The intensive fishing in the area, especially by trawlers and purse seiners, may be depleting important nutritional sources for these common bottlenose dolphins.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species classifies the Mediterranean subpopulation of common bottlenose dolphins as Vulnerable. The National Institute of Sciences and Technology of the Sea (INSTM) has conducted many surveys along the Tunisian coastline. The results of this effort showed that many cetaceans, and especially bottlenose dolphin, was seen frequently along this coastline. The majority of sightings was condensed in Tunisian north-eastern coasts around the Cap Bon Peninsula.

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion Bi: Small and Resident Populations

The area appears to be an important habitat for Tursiops truncatus, suggested by the concentration of sightings throughout the year where they appear to show long-term site fidelity. Photo-identification studies recognize a catalogue of 44 individuals. Based on the monthly occurrence rates of these recognized dolphins, the residency of each identified individual was determined. 37.21% of marked dolphins (n = 16) are residents, 32.56% (n = 14) of marked dolphins often frequent the study area, and the rest (n = 13) are sporadic. Social pattern analyses revealed that the associations between individuals are not random and there are preferred/ avoided relationships between animals.

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion Ci: Reproductive Areas

Identifying the sex of the 43 identified individual common bottlenose dolphins allowed the identification of 3 males and 12 females, along with their calves/juveniles. Group size containing immature animals was significantly higher than those groups in which the immature were absent. The study of group size indicate that the group size varies considerably over the years and bathymetric strata. Possible explanations for this variation include predation, prey availability, reproduction and sociality of this species. The size of groups with young individuals proved to be larger than groups without young individuals.

Sub-criterion Cii: Feeding Areas

This area seem to be a primary area of common bottlenose dolphin where favourable habitat features are concentrated, and the high biomass of potential prey. Furthermore, bottlenose depredation from fishing gear also occurs in this region. Surveys showed also that bottlenose dolphins share this area with high fishing activity in the Tunisian Northeast. These intense fishing activities could degrade habitats and exposed it to collision problems, by-catch and even mortality. Behavioural monitoring of this species has shown that 50.47% of its behavioural budget allocated to conduct social activities and 43.26% in feeding behaviour, particularly interacting with fishing gears.

Supporting Information

Aïssi, M., Loussaief B. Tringali LM. Arcangeli A. Crosti R. Tepsich P. Moulins A. Daly Yahia MN (2014). Monitoring of cetaceans in the central Mediterranean Sea: preliminary results of a Tunisian/ Italian cooperation project financially supported by ACCOBAMS. Participation à la Troisiéme Conférence Biennale sur la Conservation des Cétacés dans les Pays du Sud de la Méditerranée (CSMC3) à Jounieh Liban.

Benmessaoud, R., Chérif, M. and Zaara, K. 2016. Atténuation des impacts de la pêcherie à la senne aux petits pélagiques sur les delphinidés et les oiseaux marins de la région de Kélibia. Rapport d’avancement. MoU ACCOBAMS N°05/2016/LB6410, 77pp.

Benmessaoud, R. 2015. Mitigation of interactions with cetaceans in Tunisia – results of the experience with ADT. Participation à la 2ème Réunion du Groupe de Travail
d’ACCOBAMS et de la CGPM sur le projet d’atténuation des interactions négatives entre
les espèces marines menacées le Grand dauphin Tursiops truncatus et le Puffin cendré Calonectris diomedea et les activités de pêche surtout celles de la pêche des petits pélagiques au niveau de la région de Kélibia.

Benmessaoud, R. 2014. Contribution à l’étude écologique et éthologique de la population de Tursiops truncatus (Montagu, 1821) de la région Nord-Est de la Tunisie et identification de son modèle de structure sociale. Thèse de doctorat de L’Inst. Nat. Agro. de Tunisie. 242 pp.

Benmessaoud, R., Alessi, J. and Bejaoui, N. 2014. Analyse de la structure sociale de la population de Tursiops truncatus de la région Nord-Est de la Tunisie. Participation à la Troisiéme Conférence Biennale sur la Conservation des Cétacés dans les Pays du Sud de la Méditerranée (CSMC3) à Jounieh Liban.

Benmessaoud, R., Chérif, M., Bejaoui, N. 2014. Utilisation du logiciel de la
photo-identification DARWIN pour l’analyse numérique et la reconnaissance des images de la population de Tursiops truncatus de la région Nord-Est de la Tunisie. Participation à la Troisiéme Conférence Biennale sur la Conservation des Cétacés dans les Pays du Sud de la Méditerranée (CSMC3) à Jounieh Liban.

Benmessaoud, R., Chérif, M. and Bejaoui, N. 2013. Baseline data on abundance, site fidelity and association patterns of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off the northeastern Tunisian coast (Mediterranean Sea). J. CETACEAN RES. MANAGE. 13(3): 211–219, 2013

Benmessaoud, R. 2011. Impact of marine mammals on purse seine: evaluation of
economic loss». Participation à la 2ème Réunion du Groupe de Travail de la CGPM sur le bycatch à Antalya, Turquie.

Benmessaoud, R., Chérif, M., Rjeibi, O., Bradai, M.N. and Bejaoui, N. 2011. Expérimentation d’un répulsif acoustique pour la limitation des interactions entre les senneurs et les delphinidés de la région du Cap-Bon (Kélibia). Bull. Inst. Natn. Scien. Tech. Mer de Salammbô, Vol. 38, 2011.

Benmessaoud, R. 2009. Les delphinidés de la région du Cap Bon : distribution et comportement dans la zone d’exploitation halieutique » Participation à La Première Conférence biennale sur la Conservation des Cétacés dans les Pays du Sud de la Méditerranée (CSMC1) Tabarka.

Benmessaoud, R. 2008. Statut des delphinidés et études des interactions entres dauphins et filets de pêche dans la région de Kélibia. Mastère de L’Inst. Nat. Agro. de Tunisie. 163 pp.

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