Southern Coastal and Shelf Waters of South Africa IMMA

Size in Square Kilometres

166 700 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Indian Ocean humpback dolphin – Sousa plumbea 

Criterion A; B (i)

Bryde’s whale – Balaenoptera edeni

Criterion C (ii)

Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin – Tursiops aduncus           

Criterion C (ii)

Common dolphin – Delphinus delphis         

Criterion C (ii)

Cape fur seal – Arctocephalus pusillus         

Criterion C (ii)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Sousa plumbea, Balaenoptera edeni, Tursiops aduncus, Delphinus delphis, Arctocephalus pusillus, Megaptera novaeangliae, Eubalaena australis, Orcinus orca

 

Summary

The waters off the southern coast of South Africa are rich in marine mammals. In particular the inshore waters, within 500m of the coast and water depths of less than 25m, present a key habitat for feeding and reproduction for the South African component of the global population Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea), listed as ‘Endangered – EN’ in local and international IUCN Red List assessments. Furthermore, the waters over the continental shelf, present important habitat for the inshore form of Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni). The area is also known for the annual Sardine Run, which occurs within the eastern part of the area in the austral winter (May-June) and supports further marine apex predators, including common dolphins (Delphinus delphis), Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) and killer whales (Orcinus orca) during this event.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

Recent local (South Africa) and international (IUCN) Red List assessments have classified the Indian Ocean humpback dolphin as ‘Endangered’ in South African waters (Plön et al., 2016) as well as globally (Braulik et al., 2017). Investigations of photo-identification data of this species have indicated that national abundance may be well below previous estimates of 1000 individuals, with numbers possibly closer to 500 (Vermeulen et al., 2017).

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion Bi: Small and Resident Populations 

Available recent population size estimates for Sousa plumbea are generally small (James et al., 2015; Vermeulen et al., 2017; Bouveroux et al., 2018), ranging from as little as 41 animals (Greenwood, 2013) to a maximum of 466 (Karczmarski et al., 1999) recorded individuals. Matching of photo-identification catalogues between study sites along the coastline has indicated that national abundance may be well below previous estimates of 1000 individuals (Plön et al., 2016), with numbers possibly closer to 500 (Vermeulen et al., 2017). Within these isolated populations numerous studies have documented reproductive activities of Sousa plumbea in the area, specifically Algoa Bay and Plettenberg Bay (Saayman et al., 1972; Saayman and Tayler, 1979; Karczmarski, 1997; Karczmarski et al., 2000; Plön et al., 2015; Koper et al., 2016; Melly et al., 2017; Bouveroux et al., 2018). Births appear to occur throughout the year but in Algoa Bay most have been reported in the austral summer and autumn (Dec-April) (Karczmarski, 1999). Movement between study sites was documented along the entire southern Cape coast between False Bay and Algoa Bay; no movement was reported to study sites further east, indicating possible population delineation (Vermeulen et al., 2017).

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion Cii: Feeding Areas 

The Sardine Run is a well-documented annual phenomenon whereby large schools of Sardine (Sardinops sagax) migrate along the Southern and Eastern Cape coastline (including the area known as the Wild Coast) into the waters of KwaZulu-Natal (O’Donoghue, 2009; O’Donoghue et al., 2010a). This migration and aggregation of associated predators is believed to start in the area off Mossel Bay and move along the shelf eastwards to about Durban (O’Donoghue et al., 2010a; O’Donoghue et al., 2010b; O’Donoghue et al., 2010c). The Sardine Run has become increasingly spatio-temporally variable, but usually occurs in May/June during the austral winter (O’Donoghue et al., 2010b; O’Donoghue et al., 2010c; Caputo et al., 2017). A number of marine predators, such as common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) (Ambrose et al., 2013), Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) (Cockcroft et al., 1990; Caputo et al., 2017), and Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni) follow and feed on the migrating schools of Sardine (Penry et al., 2011; Penry et al., 2016). In addition, Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillus) feed in the Sardine Run (Huisamen et al., 2012).

Supporting Information

Ambrose, S.T., Froneman, P.W., Smale, M.J., Cliff, G. and Plön, S. 2013. ‘Winter diet shift of long-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus capensis) feeding in the sardine run off KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’. Marine Biology, 160:1543–1561.

Atkins, S., Pillay, N. and Peddemors, V.M. 2004. ‘Spatial distribution of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) at Richards Bay, South Africa: Environmental influences and behavioural patterns’. Aquatic Mammals, 30:84–93.

Barendse, J. and Carvalho, I. 2016. ‘A conservation assessment of Megaptera novaeangliae’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, E. Do Linh San, D. Raimondo, H.T. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Best, P.B. 2007. Whales and Dolphins of the Southern African Subregion. Cape Town: Cambridge University Press. 338 pp.

Best, P.B. 2001. ‘Distribution and population separation of Bryde’s whale Balaenoptera edeni off southern Africa’. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 220: 277–289.

Best, P.B. 1977. ‘Two allopatric forms of Bryde’s whale off South Africa’. Reports of the International Whaling Commission, Special Issue 1:10–38.

Best, P.B., Butterworth, D.S. and Rickett, L.H. 1984. ‘An assessment cruise for the South African inshore stock of Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni)’. Reports of the International Whaling Commission, 34:403–423.

Bouveroux, T., Melly, B., McGregor, G. and Plön, S. 2018. ‘Another dolphin in peril? Photo-identification, occurrence and distribution of the endangered Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea) in Algoa Bay’. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 28, 3: 723–732.

Braulik, G.T., Findlay, K., Cerchio, S., Baldwin, R. and Perrin, W. 2017. ‘Sousa plumbea. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2017: e.T82031633A82031644’ [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-3.RLTS.T82031633A82031644.en. (Accessed: 19 June 2019)

Caputo, M., Froneman P.W., Du Preez, D., Thompson, G. and Plön, S. 2017. ‘Long-term trends in cetacean occurrence during the annual Sardine Run off the Wild Coast, South Africa’. African Journal of Marine Science, 39:83–94.

Cockcroft, V., Natoli, A., Reisinger, R., Elwen, S., Plön, S., Hoelzel, R. and Atkins, S. 2016. ‘A Conservation Assessment of Tursiops aduncus’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, D. Raimondo, E.D.L San, J. Selier, H. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Cockcroft, V.G., Ross, G.J.B. and Peddemors, V.M. 1991. ‘Distribution and status of bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus on the south coast of Natal, South Africa’. South African Journal of marine Science, 11: 203–209.

Cockcroft, V.G., Ross, G.J.B. and Peddemors, V.M. 1990. ‘Bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus distribution in Natal’s coastal waters’. South African Journal of Marine Science, 9:1–10.

Greenwood, G. 2013. ‘Population changes and spatial distribution of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) within the Plettenberg Bay area’. BSc Hons Thesis. South Africa: Nelson Mandela University.

Huisamen, J., Kirkman, S., van der Lingen, C., Watson, L.H., Cockcroft, V.G., Jewel, R. and Pistorius, P.A. 2012. ‘Diet of the Cape fur seal Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus at the Robberg Peninsula, Plettenberg Bay, and implications for local fisheries’. African Journal of Marine Science, 34:431–441.

James, B.S., Bester, M.N., Penry, G.S., Gennari, E. and Elwen, S.H. 2015. ‘Abundance and degree of residency of humpback dolphins Sousa plumbea in Mossel Bay, South Africa’. African Journal of Marine Science, 37: 383–394.

Karczmarski, L. 1997. ‘Description of selected behaviours of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis’. Aquatic Mammals, 23: 127–133.

Karczmarski, L., Cockcroft, V.G. and McLachlan, A. 2000. ‘Habitat use and preferences of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in Algoa Bay, South Africa’. Marine Mammal Science, 16: 65–79.

Karczmarski, L., Winter, P.E.D, Cockcroft, V.G. and McLachlan, A. 1999. ‘Population analyses of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape, South Africa’. Marine Mammal Science, 15: 1115–1123.

Karczmarski, L., Cockcroft, V.G., McLachlan, A. and Winter, P.E.D. 1998. ‘Recommendations for the conservation and management of humpback dolphins Sousa chinensis in the Algoa Bay region, South Africa’. Koedoe, 41:121–129.

Kirkman, S.P., Hofmeyr, G.J.G., Seakamela, S.M. and Pistorius, P.A. 2016. ‘A conservation assessment of Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, E. Do Linh San, D. Raimondo, H.T. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Koper, R.P., Karczmarski, L., du Preez, D. and Plön, S. 2016. ‘Sixteen years later: Occurrence, group size, and habitat use of humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) in Algoa Bay, South Africa’. Marine Mammal Science, 32: 490–507.

Melly, B.L., McGregor, G., Hofmeyr, G. and Plön, S. 2017. ‘Spatio-temporal distribution and habitat use of cetaceans in Algoa Bay, South Africa’. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, 98: 1065–1079.

O’Donoghue, S.H. 2009. The Sardine Run: Investigating sardine and predator distribution in relation to environmental conditions using GIS and remotely sensed products. Durban: University of KwaZulu-Natal. 136 pp.

O’Donoghue, S.H., Drapeau, L., Dudley, S.F.J. and Peddemors, V.M. 2010a. ‘The KwaZulu-Natal sardine run: Shoal distribution in relation to nearshore environmental conditions, 1997-2007’. African Journal of Marine Science, 32: 293–307.

O’Donoghue, S.H., Drapeau, L. and Peddemors, V.M. 2010b. ‘Broad-scale distribution patterns of sardine and their predators in relation to remotely sensed environmental conditions during the KwaZulu-Natal sardine run’. African Journal of Marine Science, 32: 279–291.

O’Donoghue, S.H., Whittington, P.A., Dyer, B.M. and Peddemors, V.M. 2010c. ‘Abundance and distribution of avian and marine mammal predators of sardine observed during the 2005 KwaZulu-Natal sardine run survey’. African Journal of Marine Science, 32: 361–374.

Penry, G.S. 2010. ‘The Biology of South African Bryde’s whales.’ PhD Thesis. Scotland, UK: University of St. Andrews.

Penry, G.S., Hammond, P.S., Cockcroft, V.G., Best, P.B., Thornton, M. and Graves, J.A. 2018. ‘Phylogenetic relationships in southern African Bryde’s whales inferred from mitochondrial DNA: Further support for subspecies delineation between the two allopatric populations’. Conservation Genetics, 19, 6: 1349–1365.

Penry, G., Findlay, K. and Best, P.B. 2016. ‘A conservation assessment of Balaenoptera edeni’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, E. Do Linh San, D. Raimondo, H.T. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Penry, G.S., Cockcroft, V.G. and Hammond, P.S. 2011. ‘Seasonal fluctuations in occurrence of inshore Bryde’s whales in Plettenberg Bay, South Africa, with notes on feeding and multispecies associations’. African Journal of Marine Science, 33: 403–414.

Peters, I.T. and Barendse, J. 2016. ‘A conservation assessment of Eubalaena australis’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, E. Do Linh San, D. Raimondo, H.T. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Plön, S., Atkins, S., Conry, D., Pistorius, P., Cockcroft, V. and Child, M. 2016. ‘A Conservation Assessment of Sousa plumbea’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, E. Do Linh San, D. Raimondo, H.T. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Plön, S. and Cockroft, V. 2016. ‘A conservation assessment of Delphinus capensis capensis’. In: M.F. Child, L. Roxburgh, E. Do Linh San, D. Raimondo, H.T. Davies-Mostert (eds.) The Red List of Mammals of South Africa, Swaziland and Lesotho. South Africa: South African National Biodiversity Institute and Endangered Wildlife Trust.

Plön, S., Cockcroft, V.G. and Froneman, P.W. 2015. ‘The natural history and conservation of Indian Ocean humpback dolphins (Sousa plumbea) in South African waters’. Advances in Marine Biology, 72: 143–162.

Ross, G.J.B. 1984. ‘The smaller cetaceans of the south east coast of Southern Africa’. Annals of the Cape Provincial Museums (Natural History), 15, 2: 173–410.

Ross, G.J.B., Cockcroft, V.G., Melton, D.A. and Butterworth, D.S. 1989. ‘Population estimates for bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in Natal and Transkei waters’. South African Journal of marine Science, 8: 119–129.

Ross, G.J.B., Cockcroft, V.G. and Butterworth, D.S. 1987. ‘Offshore distribution of bottlenosed dolphins in Natal coastal waters and Algoa Bay, Eastern Cape’. South African Journal of Zoology, 22: 50–56.

Saayman, G.S. and Tayler, C.K. 1979. ‘The socioecology of humpback dolphins (Sousa sp.)’. In: H.E. Winn, B.L. Olla (eds.) Behaviour of Marine Mammals, pp. 165–226. New York: Plenum Press.

Saayman, G.S., Bower, D. and Tayler, C.K. 1972. ‘Observations on inshore and pelagic dolphins on the south-eastern Cape coast of South Africa’. Koedoe, 15: 1–24.

Vermeulen, E., Bouveroux, T., Plön, S., Atkins, S., Chivell, W., Cockcroft, V., Conry, D., Gennari, E., Hörbst, S., James, B.S., Kirkman, S., Penry, G., Pistorius, P., Thornton, M., Vargas-Fonseca, A. and Elwen, S. 2017. ‘Indian Ocean humpback dolphin (Sousa plumbea) movement patterns along the South African coast’. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 28, 1: 231–240.

Young, D.D. and Cockcroft, V.G. 1994. ‘Diet of common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) off the south-east coast of southern Africa: Opportunism or specialization?’ Journal of Zoology, London, 234: 41–53.

 

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