Matang Mangroves and Coastal Waters IMMA
Size in Square Kilometres
2 386 km2
Qualifying Species and Criteria
Irrawaddy dolphin – Orcaella brevirostris
Criterion A; B (2); C (1, 2)
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin – Sousa chinensis
Criterion A; B (2); C (1, 2)
Indo-Pacific finless porpoise – Neophocaena phocaenoides
Criterion A; B (2); C (1, 2)
Marine Mammal Diversity
Tursiops aduncus, Stenella longirostris
Download fact sheet
The Matang mangroves and coastal waters between the latitudes 4°09′-4°54’N in the state of Perak, northwestern Peninsular Malaysia, is an extensive area comprising mangrove forests within a series of riverine and estuarine waterways that lead out into a shallow but productive intertidal mudflat coastal region. The area constitutes one of Peninsular Malaysia’s most intensive fisheries grounds. The area also hosts a significant locally occurring population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) within the riverine waterways, estuaries and areas closest to the coastal shoreline, while Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are sighted year-round near the estuaries and further off the coast in silty bottom areas measuring <20m of water depth. The western edge of this IMMA also contains habitat for Indo-Pacific finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides). Ongoing research since 2013 has revealed that the area is important feeding, breeding, nursing and socialising grounds for both the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and Irrawaddy dolphins.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) and Indo-Pacific finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) are listed as VU on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Jefferson et al. 2017; Wang and Reeves, 2017), while Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) are listed as EN (Minton et al. 2017). However in Malaysia, all three species are further listed as Marine Endangered Species and protected under the Fisheries Act 1985 and Fisheries (Control of Endangered Species) Regulation (Amendment) 2008.
Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance
Sub-criterion B2: Aggregations
Systematic research from 2013 – 2016 in the area within the IMMA measuring 1152 km2 and effort amounting 125 survey days across 14 surveys has found that there were 814 Irrawaddy dolphins (CV = 15, 95% CI = 603-1100) and 303 finless porpoises (CV = 21%, 95% CI = 204-452) in the surveyed area. The mark-recapture estimate based on photographs of left side of dorsal fins was 426 humpback dolphins (CV = 34%, 95% CI = 222–817) in the surveyed area. These animals are present year-round in Matang’s estuaries and coastal waters. Group sizes of humpback dolphins ranged from 1 – 40 individuals (n = 124), while group sizes of Irrawaddy dolphins ranged from 1 – 32 individuals (n = 254) (Kuit et al. forthcoming). Irrawaddy dolphins in Matang coastal waters were observed to aggregate in large groups of 15 – 30 and engage in herd mating or group foraging behaviour. Photo-identification data show that the humpback dolphins in the IMMA range across the five estuaries that feed into Matang’s coastal waters, with many individual dolphins displaying high site fidelity. Further offshore, approximately 10 km onward, Indo-Pacific finless porpoises were recorded in groups of 1 -10 individuals (n = 102) (Kuit et al. forthcoming).
Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities
Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas
Systematic research from 2013 – 2016 in the area within the IMMA measuring 1152 km2 and effort amounting 125 survey days across 14 surveys has found that 56.3% (n = 72) of the total number of humpback dolphin sightings (N = 128) contained calves (including neonates). Sightings of humpback dolphins containing neonates constituted 1.6% (n = 2) of the species’ total sightings. In January 2017, a female humpback dolphin that washed ashore dead in Matang was found to be pregnant with a near-term foetus. Irrawaddy dolphin sightings that contained calves (including neonates) made up 28.7% (n = 73) of the total number of the species’ sightings (N = 254). Sightings of Irrawaddy dolphin groups containing neonates constituted 0.4% (n = 1) of the species’ total sightings (N = 254). Of the 254 Irrawaddy dolphin groups sighted in the IMMA, 1.2% (n = 3) were recorded engaging in herd mating and sexual behaviour. Of the 128 humpback dolphin groups observed, 3.1% were recorded engaging in sexual behaviour (Kuit et al. forthcoming).
Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas
Systematic research effort across 2013 – 2016 within the IMMA, amounting 125 survey days across 14 surveys, has found that humpback dolphins engaging in feeding or foraging behaviour constituted 74.3% (n = 95) of the total species’ sightings (N = 128). Of the 95 humpback dolphin sightings categorised as feeding, 30.0% (n = 29) were of direct observations of the dolphins preying on marine catfish (Kuit et al. 2015). Stomach contents recovered from humpback dolphins found dead stranded in Matang contained remains of coastal fish and cephalopod species known to occur in the area (Kuit et al. 2015). Irrawaddy dolphins groups observed in the IMMA were found engaging in feeding or foraging behaviour in 50.8% (n = 129) of the species’ total sightings (N = 254) (Kuit et al. 2015).
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Kuit, S.H., Ponnampalam, L.S., Ng, J.E., Fairul Izmal, J.H. and Chong, V.C. 2015. Selection factors of Sagor catfish (Hexanematichthys sagor) as prey by Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in the estuaries of Matang, Perak, Malaysia. Poster presented at the 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Francisco, USA. 13-18 December 2015.
Minton, G., Smith, B.D., Braulik, G.T., Kreb, D., Sutaria, D. and Reeves, R. 2017. Orcaella brevirostris (errata version published in 2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T15419A123790805. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T15419A50367860.en. (Accessed: 11 October 2018).
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