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

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Summary

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 with <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) (hereafter referred to as humpback dolphins) and Indo-Pacific finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) (hereafter referred to as finless porpoise) are listed as VU on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (Jefferson et al. 2017; Wang and Reeves, 2017), whereas 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. The main fishing gear inshore that entangles humpback dolphins and Irrawaddy dolphins are gillnets, driftnets and trammel nets, whereas trawls were the more fatal bycatch gear offshore that entangled mostly finless porpoises (Kuit & Ponnampalam, 2021; Figure 3).

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 110 survey days across 11 surveys has found that there were 763 Irrawaddy dolphins (CV = 13%, 95% CI = 588-990) and 600 finless porpoises (CV = 27%, 95% CI = 354-1016) 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 (Kuit et al., 2021). The annual abundance estimates of humpback dolphins ranged between 171 (95% CI =148-208) in 2014–2015 and 81 (95% CI = 67-98) in 2015–2016, likely due to the presence of offshore individuals that moved in and out of the study area (Kuit et al., 2021). The estuarine strata were inhabited by 68 inshore humpback dolphins (95% CI = 63-73) in 2013–2014 to 87 (95% CI = 78-97]) dolphins in 2014–2015 (Kuit et al., 2021). 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), whereas group sizes of Irrawaddy dolphins ranged from 1 – 32 individuals (n = 254) (Kuit, 2021). Irrawaddy dolphins in Matang coastal waters were observed to aggregate in large groups of >10 individuals and engage in herding behaviour (Kuit 2021). Photo-identification data show that the inshore 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, finless porpoises were recorded in groups of 1 -10 individuals (n = 102) (Kuit et al., 2019).

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion C1: Reproductive Areas

Systematic research from 2013 – 2016 in the area within the IMMA has found that 59% (n = 73) of the total number of humpback dolphin sightings (n = 124) contained calves (including neonates) (Kuit, 2021).  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 (MareCet, unpublished data). 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 28% (n = 70) 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 (MareCet, unpublished data). In December 2013, a female finless porpoise that was accidentally bycaught in a trawl net was found to be pregnant with a near-term foetus (MareCet, unpublished data).

Sub-criterion C2: Feeding Areas

Systematic research effort across 2013 – 2016 within the IMMA, 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).

Supporting Information

Ariffin, R. and Nik Mohd Shah, N.M. 2013. A Working Plan for The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, Perak: Sixth Revision of the first 10-year Period (2010–2019) of the Third Rotation. State Forestry Department of Perak.

Azahar, M. and Nik Mohd Shah, N.M. 2003. A Working Plan for the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, Perak: The Third 10-year Period (2000-2009) of the Second Rotation (Fifth Revision). State Forestry Department of Perak.

Chong, V.C. 2006. Sustainable utilization and management of Mangrove ecosystems of Malaysia. Aquatic Ecosystem Health & Management, 9(2), 249–260. http://doi.org/10.1080/14634980600717084

Department of Fisheries Malaysia. 2016. Annual Fisheries Statistics 2016. Available at:https://www.dof.gov.my/dof2/resources/user_29/Documents/Perangkaan Perikanan/2016/Landing1.pdf (Accessed: 11 October 2018).

Goessens, A., Satyanarayana, B., Van Der Stocken, T., Zuniga, M.Q., Mohd-Lokman, H., Sulong, I. and Dahdouh-Guebas, F. 2014. Is Matang Mangrove Forest in Malaysia sustainably rejuvenating after more than a century of conservation and harvesting management? PLoS ONE, 9(8). http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0105069

Jefferson, T.A., Smith, B.D., Braulik, G.T. and Perrin, W. 2017. Sousa chinensis (errata version published in 2018). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T82031425A123794774. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017- 3.RLTS.T82031425A50372332.en. (Accessed: 11 October 2018).

JUPEM. 2004. A hand book on Tide Tables. Malaysia. Department of Survey and Mapping, KualaLumpur, Malaysia.

Kuit, S.H. 2021. Ecology of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) and Irrawaddy dolphin (Orcaella brevirostris) in the Matang mangrove and adjacent coastal waters in Peninsular Malaysia [Ph.D thesis]. Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Kuit, S. H. & Ponnampalam, L. S. 2021. Cetacean Bycatch Risk in Gillnets and Trawls in Matang, Peninsular Malaysia. Paper SC/68c/HIM/08
presented to the Scientific Committee of the International Whaling Commission, Cambridge, UK. Available at: https://archive.iwc.int/?r=19129&k=fdbe8cfe0f

Kuit, S.H., Ponnampalam, L.S., Fairul Izmal, J.H. and Chong, V.C. 2014. Cetacean research and a precautionary approach in developing dolphin-watching tourism in the coastal waters of the Matang mangroves. In Proceedings of the Matang Mangrove Forest Management Conference (pp. 27–39). Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia.

Kuit, S.H., Ponnampalam, L.S., Hammond, P., Chong, V.C. and Then, A.Y. 2021. Abundance estimates of three cetacean species in the coastal waters of
Matang, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 31: 3120 – 3132. Available at: https://doi:10.1002/aqc.3699

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.

Kuit, S.H., Ponnampalam, L.S., Ng, J.E., Chong, V.C. and Then, A.Y. 2019. Distribution and habitat characteristics of three sympatric cetacean species in the coastal waters of Matang, Perak, Peninsular Malaysia. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 29: 1681 – 1696. Available at:
https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.3121

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).

Ponnampalam, L.S. 2013. The dolphins of the Matang Mangroves. In: R. Ariffin and N.M.S. Nik Mustafa, N.M.S. (eds), A Working Plan for The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve, Perak: The First 10-year Period (2010–2019) of the Third Rotation (Sixth Revision), pp. 110-112. Perak State Forestry Department, Malaysia.

Wang, J.Y. and Reeves, R. 2017. Neophocaena phocaenoides. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T198920A50386795. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T198920A50386795.en. (Accessed: 11 October 2018).

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