Wakatobi and Adjacent Waters IMMA

Size in Square Kilometres

26 815 km2

Qualifying Species and Criteria

Sperm whale – Physeter macrocephalus

Criterion A; C (ii)

Spinner dolphin – Stenella longirostris

Criterion B (ii); C (ii)

Marine Mammal Diversity 

Criterion D (ii)

Balaenoptera musculus, Ziphius cavirostris, Peponocephala electra, Tursiops truncatus, Grampus griseus, Stenella attenuata, Balaenoptera edeni, Globicephala macrorhynchus, Tursiops aduncus


Wakatobi and its adjacent waters are formed of the four main Tukangbesi Islands in the archipelago including Wangi-wangi, Kaledupa, Tomia, and Binongko (Wa-ka-to-bi). This area is characterised by a highly variable submarine landscapes and channels between major islands that act as habitat for sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus). This area is also an important habitat for spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), of which a significant number of individuals have been observed across multiple years of study. A concentration of both species occurs here and their habitat use has been confirmed via spatial modelling studies of their habitats. The area contains an important diversity of cetacean species for the region, of which at least 11 marine mammal species have been observed utilising the area of Wakatobi and its adjacent waters.

Description of Qualifying Criteria

Criterion A – Species or Population Vulnerability

The Sperm whale is a threatened species under IUCN Red List. This species is assessed as Vulnerable A1d (Taylor et al., 2008), and are commonly found in north part of Wangi-Wangi Islands (local convex hull of 50%) and east part of Wakatobi waters (local convex hull 95%) where the channels and topographic features exist between landmasses. The Indonesian government has classed sperm whales, along with all marine mammals, as a fully protected species (Government of The Republic of Indonesia, 1999).

Criterion B: Distribution and Abundance

Sub-criterion Bii: Aggregations

According to monitoring data conducting the region (Sahri et al. forthcoming), large aggregations of >100 individual spinner dolphins were frequently recorded in the area from 2006-2011. Distribution of sightings indicate that spinner dolphins regularly utilize all parts of Wakatobi waters. This further indicates that Wakatobi waters and the habitats therein function to aggregated the species into groups of significant numbers. A concentration of this species occurs here is confirmed with spatial modelling of their habitats (Sahri et al. forthcoming).

Criterion C: Key Life Cycle Activities

Sub-criterion Cii: Feeding Areas

The Wakatobi area has highly variable submarine landscapes with drop-offs and channels between major islands. Sperm whales are most abundant in the north of Wangi-Wangi Island (Sahri et al., 2014b) where the slope edges and drop-offs are located. These features are associated with upwelling points that force nutrient circulation, greater greater productivity and aggregate more prey, creating a very good habitat for this squid-eating deep-diving species. Oceanographic features (e.g. upwelling current, bathymetric slopes, thermal fronts and mesoscale eddies) support high-densities of prey. Feeding behaviour has also been observed for spinner dolphins in this area. This was validated by direct observation when this species actively feeding at surface on schooling baby skipjack tuna and anchovies. Across many of sightings pods of the dolphins associated with seabird aggregations, equally feeding or foraging in this area (Sahri et al. forthcoming).

Criterion D: Special Attributes  

Sub-criterion Dii: Diversity

The waters of Wakatobi are and important habitat for cetaceans and one of the most productive areas in the Banda Sea region, attracting a diversity of cetaceans. At least eleven common and also other rare whale and dolphin species can be observed in the area (Sahri et al. 2014b), which account for a third of the total of 33 species of cetaceans found in Indonesia (Mustika et al. 2015). Information on the diversity of cetaceans in this area is robust, with more than 50% of recorded dolphin and whale sightings are identified to species level, and it is likely that the number of species occurring in Wakatobi may be more than the 11 already recorded species. Beside sperm whale (as a primary species), which is assessed as threatened species (Vulnerable A1d, Taylor et al. 2008), there is another threatened species under IUCN Red List, namely Blue Whale (Balaenoptera musculus) as Endangered A1abd species (Reilly et al. 2008). Two other species are listed as Data Deficient, that meaning there is insufficient data to make an evaluation of the risk of extinction, i.e. Short-finned Pilot Whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus) and Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops aduncus). Seven remaining species belong to Least Concern category: Cuvier’s Beaked Whale (Ziphius cavirostris), Spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris), Melon-headed Whale (Peponocephala electra), Common Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), Risso’s Dolphin (Grampus griseus), Pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), and Bryde’s Whale (Balaenoptera edeni).

Supporting Information

Double, M.C., Andrews-Goff, V., Jenner, K.C.S., Jenner, M.N., Laverick, S.M., Branch, T.A., and Gales, N.J. 2014. Migratory Movements of Pygmy Blue Whales (Balaenoptera musculus brevicauda) between Australia and Indonesia as Revealed by Satellite Telemetry. PLoS ONE 9(4): 1-11. [online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0093578

Government of The Republic of Indonesia. 1999. Peraturan Pemerintah No. 7 Tahun 1999 tentang Pengawetan Jenis Tumbuhan dan Satwa (Government Regulation No. 7/1999 on Preserving Flora and Fauna Species). [Online]. Available at: http://ksdae.menlhk.go.id/assets/uploads/Lampiran-PP-Nomor-7-Tahun-1999.pdf

Green, A. L. and Mous, P.J. 2008. Delineating the Coral Triangle, its ecoregions and functional seascapes Version 5.0. Bali and Brisbane. 44 pp. Bali: The Nature Conservancy.

Huffard, C. L., Erdmann, M. V., and Gunawan, T. 2012. Geographic priorities for marine biodiversity conservation in Indonesia. Jakarta-Indonesia. 114 pp. Jakarta: Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries and Marine Protected Areas Governance Program.

Mustika, P.L., D. Sadili, A. Sunuddin, D. Kreb, Sarmintohadi, I. Ramli, D. Suprapti, J. Ratha, E. Lazuardi, H. Rasdiana, Y. Miastro, R. P. Sari, S. Annisa, N. Terry, and M. M. P. Monintja. 2015. Rencana Aksi Nasional Konservasi Cetacea Indonesia Periode I: 2016-2020 (National Action Plan for Indonesia Cetacean Conservation Periods I: 2016-2020). Jakarta-Indonesia. 76 pp. Jakarta: Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia.

Pet-Soede, L. and Erdmann, M.. 2003. Rapid Ecological Assessment Wakatobi National Park. Bali-Indonesia. 187 pp. Bali: WWF Indonesia and The Nature Conservancy.
Reilly, S.B., Bannister, J.L., Best, P.B., Brown, M., Brownell Jr., R.L., Butterworth, D.S.,

Clapham, P.J., Cooke, J., Donovan, G.P., Urbán, J. & Zerbini, A.N. 2008. Balaenoptera musculus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T2477A9447146. [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T2477A9447146.en.

Rudolph, P., Smeenk, C., and Leatherwood, S. 1997. Preliminary checklist of cetacea in the Indonesian Archipelago and adjacent waters. Zoologische Verhandelingen, 312: 3-48. [Online]. Available at:http://www.repository.naturalis.nl/record/317830

Sahri, A., Mulyono, H. and Sumaraja. 2014a. ‘Keanekaragaman dan Status Burung Laut/Pantai di Taman Nasional Wakatobi: Kombinasi Metode Pengamatan Transek dan Jelajah untuk Inventarisasi Burung Laut/Pantai di Pulau Kecil’ (Biodiversity and State of Seabirds in Wakatobi National Park: Combination of Transect and Exploratory Methods for Inventorying Seabirds in Small Islands), paper delivered at the 3rd Annual National Seminar on Fisheries and Marine Research, Semarang-Indonesia, 2 November 2013.

Sahri, A., Santosa, H., and Purwanto. 2014b. Sebaran Setasea Berdasarkan Pengamatan Insidental Jangka Panjang di Taman Nasional Wakatobi: Apakah informasi yang diperoleh cukup berarti untuk pengelolaan dan konservasi?’ (Cetacean Distribution Based on Long-Term Occasional Observation in Wakatobi NP: Is the information obtained sufficient meaningful for the management and conservation?) paper delivered at the 3rd Annual National Seminar on Fisheries and Marine Research, Semarang-Indonesia, 2 November 2013.

Sahri, A., Putra, M.I.H., Mustika, P.L.K., Kreb, D., Murk, A.J. Forthcoming. Cetacean habitat suitability modelling in Indonesia: An effort to provide their more detailed distributions for conservation.

Taylor, B.L., Baird, R., Barlow, J., Dawson, S.M., Ford, J., Mead, J.G., Notarbartolo di Sciara, G., Wade, P. & Pitman, R.L. 2008. Physeter macrocephalus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T41755A10554884. [Online]. Available at: http://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T41755A10554884.en.

Wakatobi National Park. 2008. Rencana Pengelolaan Taman Nasional Wakatobi 1998-2023 (Management Plan of Wakatobi National Park 1998-2023). Baubau-Indonesia. 98 pp. Baubau: Wakatobi National Park.


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