Kerch Strait and Taman Bay IMMA
Size in Square Kilometres
Qualifying Species and Criteria
Black Sea harbour porpoise – Phocoena phocoena relicta
Criterion A, C(2,3)
Marine Mammal Diversity
Phocoena phocoena relicta, Tursiops truncatus ponticus
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The Kerch Strait and Taman Peninsula IMMA is located between the Kerch Peninsula and Taman Peninsula and includes coastal waters with depths between 0 and 30 m. The Kerch Strait connects the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea, and is an important migratory pathway for marine resources, including various fish species as well as two cetacean subspecies, harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus ponticus). Every spring the Azov anchovy and other fish species migrate to the productive feeding areas of the Sea of Azov and return to the Black Sea in autumn followed by migratory harbour porpoises. The Taman Bay is an important habitat area for the coastal local bottlenose dolphin population of several hundred individuals. The IMMA includes the Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Area Taman Bay and Kerch Strait and the Cetacean Critical Habitat by the ACCOBAMS.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
The Kerch Strait and Taman Bay IMMA provides important habitat for the endangered Black Sea harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta) listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List (Birkun, 2002, 2003, 2012; Mikhalev, 2005; Birkun and Frantzis, 2008; Birkun and Krivokhizhin, 2011; Savenko et al., 2013).
Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities
Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas
Kerch Strait and Taman Bay is an important area of fish aggregation and migration. Every spring the Azov anchovy and other fish species migrate to the productive feeding areas of the Sea of Azov and return to the Black Sea in autumn followed by the harbour porpoises. The main fish species which inhabit the area during the warm season are 16 species of gobies, as well as anchovy, herrings, mullets, horse mackerel, red mullet, turbot, sprat, pike perch (Fashchuk and Petrenko, 2008; Drozdov, 2011). Most of them are in the list of primary prey species for the harbour porpoises and bottlenose dolphins: gobies and anchovy for harbour porpoises (Zalkin, 1940; Vishnyakova et al., 2013); mullets and gobies for bottlenose dolphins (Gladilina and Gol’din, 2014; Gladilina, 2018). Cetacean feeding on these fish species was confirmed by their presence in the stomach content and by visual observations (Zalkin, 1940; Gladilina and Gol’din, 2014).
Sub-criterion C3: Migration Routes
The Kerch Strait is a migration corridor connecting the Sea of Azov and the Black Sea. Every spring the Azov anchovy and other fish species migrate to the productive feeding areas of the Sea of Azov and return to the Black Sea in autumn. The presence of the migratory harbour porpoises was recorded during boat and coastal visual observations, passive acoustic monitoring with a C-POD detector and monitoring of stranding porpoises in 2007-2012 (Savenko et al., 2013; Vishnyakova et al., 2013). It was shown the seasonal migration of harbour porpoise correlated with water temperature changes, their north to south gradient and occurrence of aggregations of anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus) and sand smelts (Atherina spp.). Autumn migration lasted between October and November, and spring migration lasted between March and April. During the peaks of migration the aggregations of the harbour porpoises reached a few thousand individuals. The Kerch Strait is an important wintering habitat and a foraging ground for harbour porpoises where the individuals of the Black Sea and Azov populations occur (Vishnyakova, 2017).
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Cetacean sightings in the Black Sea, Sea of Azov and Kerch Strait (CetSiBS). 2011. Dataset assembled by A.Birkun, Jr. and S.Krivokhizhin. EMODNet. https://obis.org/dataset/db99b405-1b51-432b-86b6-cc77465d08c5
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Fashchuk, D.Ya. and Petrenko, O.A. 2008. ‘The Kerch Strait is the most important transport artery and fishing area of the Azov-Black Sea basin’. South of Russia: ecology, development, 1: 15-22.
Gladilina, O.V. 2018. The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) in the waters of the northern Black Sea: biology and population structure. Dissertation submitted for the completion of the degree of Candidate of Sciences in Biology, qualification 03.00.08, zoology. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Kyiv. 215 p.
Gladilina, E. V., and Gol’din, P.E. 2014. ‘New prey fishes in diet of black sea bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus (Mammalia, Cetacea)’. Vestnik zoologii, 48(1):83-92.
Gladilina, E., Shpak, O., Serbin, V., Kryukova, A., Glazov, D. and Gol’din, P. 2018. ‘Individual movements between local coastal populations of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the northern and eastern Black Sea’. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 98(2);223-229. doi:10.1017/S0025315416001296
Mikhalev, Yu.A. 2005. ‘The Peculiarities of the Distribution of the Harbour Porpoise, Phocoena phocoena relicta (Cetacea), in the Black Sea’. Vestnik Zoologii 39(6):25–35 [In Russian].
Notarbartolo di Sciara G. and Birkun A., Jr. 2010. ‘Conserving whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Mediterranean and Black Seas: an ACCOBAMS status report, 2010’. ACCOBAMS, Monaco. 212 pp.
Savenko, O., Vishnyakova, K., Gladilina, E. and Goldin, P. 2013. ‘Fish, temperature, visual and acoustic monitoring: discovering seasonal migration patterns of harbour porpoises in the Sea of Azov’. In Abstracts of the 20th Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals. Dunedin, New Zealand, 9–13 December 2013, p.188.
Vishnyakova, K.O. 2017. The harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena) in the Sea of Azov and the north-eastern Black Sea: population morphology and demography. Dissertation submitted for the completion of the degree of Candidate of Sciences in Biology, qualification 03.00.08, zoology. Schmalhausen Institute of Zoology, National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine. Kiev. State Of Biological Resources Of The Black And Azov Seas (Reference Book). 1995. pp.1-64. Kerch: YugNIRO.
Vishnyakova, K. and Gol’din, P. 2016. Data on cetacean strandings (1999 – 2013) on the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov and adjoining areas. v1.3. Ukrainian Scientific Centre of Ecology of the Sea (UkrSCES). Dataset/Occurrence. http://gp.sea.gov.ua:8082/ipt/resource?r=cetacean_strandings_data_bs_as&v=1.3 https://doi.org/10.15468/idrmoa accessed via GBIF.org on 2021-02-25.
Vishnyakova, K.A., Savenko, O.V., Oleinikov, E.P., Gladilina, E.V., Gorohova, V.R. and Gol’din, P.E. 2013. ‘Shift of terms of spring migration of harbor porpoises in the Kerch Strait and north-eastern Black Sea in 2011-2012’. Trudy YugNIRO 51:32-35.
Vishnyakova, K., Savenko, O., Gladilina, E., Gol’din, P. and Neprokin, O. 2017. Data on cetacean strandings on the Ukrainian coast of the Black Sea (2017). v1.6. Ukrainian Scientific Centre of Ecology of the Sea (UkrSCES). Dataset/Occurrence. http://gp.sea.gov.ua:8082/ipt/resource?r=strandings2017&v=1.6
Zalkin, V.I. 1940. ‘Some materials to the biology of the porpoise (Phocaena phocaena relicta Abel) of the Azov and Black seas’. Zoological Journal, 19 (1) :160-171.