Miani Hor IMMA
Size in Square Kilometres
Qualifying Species and Criteria
Indian Ocean humpback dolphin – Sousa plumbea
Criterion A; B (1)
Indo-Pacific finless porpoise – Neophocaena phocaenoides
Marine Mammal Diversity
Sousa plumbea, Tursiops aduncus, Neophocaena phocaenoides
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Miani Hor is a coastal lagoon on the Balochistan coast of Pakistan in the Northern Arabian Sea. This lagoon includes deep (25-30 m) channels near the lagoon’s entrance to the Sea as well as vast mudflats and mangrove forests. The lagoon hosts a resident population of Endangered Indian Ocean humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea). A survey carried out in 2012 estimated the population to number between 60 and 80 individuals. Vulnerable Finless porpoises (Neophocaena phocaenoides) are also occasionally seen in Miani Hor, but further research is required to understand their population status and whether or not they are resident in the lagoon. Both species are affected by the threats of fisheries bycatch and habitat degradation through mangrove cutting, pollutants, and increased vessel traffic among other impacts.
Description of Qualifying Criteria
Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability
The IUCN status of the two cetacean species in the area are considered to be Threatened, with the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin being classed as Endangered (EN) and Indo-Pacific finless porpoise being assessed as Vulnerable (VU). The population is threatened mainly because of anthropogenic activity, including entanglements in gillnets, degradation of habitat (mangrove denudation) and infrastructure development (construction of harbours). A few strandings of dolphins were noticed in the lagoon during the studies carried out during July 2011 to June 2012 and in almost all cases these dolphins died due to entanglement in gillnets. There is no major human population centres around the lagoon and fishermen of three settlements consider the dolphins and porpoises as sacred animals, therefore, no recent record of any deliberate killing of a dolphin. In decades past, fishermen used to kill about 2 to 3 dolphins annually for extracting their fats, which was believed locally to have some medicinal properties. However, this practice is no longer performed in these areas.
Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance
Sub-criterion B1: Small and Resident Populations
Miani Hor is known for having a small resident population of humpback dolphins, which may be subjected to a single large-scale event that could significantly alter the long-term survival of the population. A total of 36 Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea) sightings were recorded in waters 3–13 m deep at Miani Hor during nine survey days from July 2011 to June 2012 as conducted by the SDO. The mean group size was 11.89 to 13.59 animals with the largest group, some 68 animals, encountered in 6 m deep water on 12 November 2010. More recently a survey carried out by a community-based organization revealed that the total number of dolphins in the area is only between 60 and 80.
Gore, M.A., Kinai, M.S., Ahmad, E., Hussain, B., Ormond, R. F., Siddiqui, J., Waqas, U. and Culloch, R. 2012. ‘Occurrence of whales and dolphins in Pakistan with reference to fishers’ knowledge and impacts’. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management. 12: 235–247. (https://www.researchgate.net/publication/232042106_Occurrence_of_whales_and_dolphins_in_Pakistan_with_reference_to_fishers%27_knowledge_and_impacts ).
Kiani, M.S. 2014. ‘Studies on Marine Cetaceans in Coastal Waters of Pakistan’. PhD thesis, University of Karachi, Pakistan.
Kiani, M.S., and van Waerebeek, K. 2015. ‘A review of the status of the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea) in Pakistan’. In: T. A. Jefferson and B. E. Curry eds.) Advances in Marine Biology, Vol. 72. pp. 201-228.Oxford: Academic Press.
SDO (Sonmiani Development Organization) 2012. ‘Marine Dolphin Conservation Through Community Education and Capacity Building in Miani Hor, Pakistan’ Final Report to Ocean Park Conservation Foundation (OPCF), Hong Kong.
Siddiqui, P.J.A., Farooq, S., Shafique, S., Burhan, Z.N., Farooqi, Z. 2008. Conservation and management of biodiversity in Pakistan through the establishment of marine protected areas. Ocean and Coastal Management 51: 377–382.