Benguela Research and Training

Walvis Bay, Namibia

Benguela Research and Training

Walvis Bay, Namibia
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Leeney R.H.,Benguela Research and Training | Dia I.M.,WWF WAMER | Dia M.,Wetlands International
Human Ecology | Year: 2015

The extent to which bycatch in artisanal fisheries impacts cetacean populations in West Africa is poorly understood. Between 2007 and 2012, 474 interviews were carried out in The Gambia, Senegal and Guinea-Bissau to collect local fishers' knowledge on rates of bycatch, local uses for bycaught animals and any cultural significance attached to cetaceans. At least a quarter of respondents in each country stated that they had accidentally caught a dolphin at least once, and greater proportions of interviewees stated that other fishers sometimes caught dolphins. Bycaught animals were usually distributed amongst the community as food, but the meat and oil of dolphins were also used to treat various ailments. There did not appear to be a sizeable market for the sale of dolphin meat. The continued depletion of fish stocks in this region may place more pressure on coastal communities to rely on cetaceans as a food source. © 2015 Springer Science+Business Media New York.

Leeney R.,C o Namibia Nature Foundation | Leeney R.,Benguela Research and Training | Post K.,Natural History Museum | Best P.,University of Pretoria | And 3 more authors.
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2013

All known records of pygmy right whales Caperea marginata in Namibia since 1978 are summarised for the first time, including 12 strandings (live and recently dead animals) and skeletal remains from at least eight more individuals. The majority of strandings and remains were located in the Walvis Bay region, where the coastal topography of the bay and lagoon may be a primary cause for the relatively high incidence of strandings in this area. Strandings appear to occur only during the austral summer, between November and March. All but two of the records for which age is available were juveniles, suggesting that the area offshore of Walvis Bay may function as a seasonal nursery ground and that the inexperience of younger animals may cause them to become 'entrapped' in the bay. These data contribute substantially to the limited information on pygmy right whale distribution worldwide and the cetacean fauna of Namibia. © 2013 Copyright NISC (Pty) Ltd.

Elwen S.H.,Namibian Dolphin Project | Elwen S.H.,University of Pretoria | Tonachella N.,Namibian Dolphin Project | Barendse J.,University of Pretoria | And 8 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2014

Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) from a breeding ground off Gabon (0-4°S) and a migratory corridor/feeding ground on the west coast of South Africa (WSA; 33°S) differ genetically and in catch histories. Interpretation of the population structure is hampered by the lack of data from the intervening 3,500 km of coastline or to the north of Gabon. Here we collate all relevant nongenetic data on humpback whales from Namibia (∼23°S) from 2005 to 2012 and compare these with corresponding data from Gabon (2000-2006) and WSA (1983-2008). Data from Namibia include photographic catalogs of dorsal fin and tail fluke images, seasonal presence, and a photographic assessment of scarring and wounds from cookiecutter sharks (Isistius sp.). No confirmed photographic identification matches could be made between Namibia and Gabon and only 2 potential matches were made between Namibia and WSA from dorsal fins. Humpback whales in Namibia show a bimodal seasonality in occurrence, with a primary peak in austral winter (July) and a secondary peak in spring (September), but generally low directionality of movement. Whales were never recorded to sing, competitive groups were rarely sighted, and very few calves were observed, making it unlikely that this is a breeding area. The prevalence of killer whale bite scars on flukes was similar at all sites. Fresh bites from cookiecutter sharks were highest in Namibia, intermediate in Gabon, but almost nonexistent in WSA. We propose that animals seen in Namibia in winter are on their northward migration and have intercepted the coast from farther offshore (where cookiecutter sharks occur), whereas animals seen in WSA in spring-summer, where they are feeding during their southward migration, have followed a slow coastwise route within the cold Benguela Ecosystem, thus allowing time for cookiecutter bites to heal. © 2014 American Society of Mammalogists.

Castellote M.,Parques Reunidos Valencia S. A. LOceanografic | Castellote M.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Leeney R.H.,University of Exeter | Leeney R.H.,Benguela Research and Training | And 8 more authors.
Polar Biology | Year: 2013

Monitoring programmes for white whales (Delphinapterus leucas) have been called for repeatedly in recent years because this species is likely to be negatively impacted by climate change, but also because such a broadly dispersed, high trophic feeder can serve as an effective ecosystem sentinel. Arctic ecosystems are difficult to monitor because of the extensive winter ice coverage and extreme environmental conditions in addition to low human population densities. However, passive acoustic monitoring has proved to be a reliable method to remotely survey the presence of some marine mammals in the Arctic. In this study, we evaluate the potential use of echolocation loggers (T-POD and C-POD, Chelonia Ltd.) for remote monitoring of white whales. Captive experiments and open water surveys in three arctic/subarctic habitats (ice-noise-dominated environment, ice-free environment and low-turbidity waters) were used to document detection performance and to explore the use of logger angle and inter-click interval data to look at activity patterns and tidal influences on space use. When acoustic results were compared to concurrent visual observations, echolocation detection was only attributed to periods of white whale presence near the recorder deployment sites. Both T-PODs and C-PODs effectively detected echolocation, even under noisy ice. Diel and tidal behavioural patterns were identified. Acoustically identified movement patterns between sites were visually confirmed. This study demonstrates the feasibility of monitoring white whales using echolocation loggers and describes some important features of their behaviour as examples of the potential application of this passive acoustic monitoring method in Arctic and subarctic regions. © 2012 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.

Bertulli C.G.,University of Iceland | Leeney R.H.,Benguela Research and Training | Leeney R.H.,Nagasaki University | Barreau T.,Elding Whale watching | Matassa D.S.,Elding Whale watching
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2016

Both whaling and whale-watching tourism occur in Iceland, but these activities are considered incompatible by many, and previous studies have suggested that whale-watch tourists would boycott whale-watch destinations where whaling takes place. This study assessed the perceptions of and attitudes towards ongoing whaling amongst whale-watch tourists in Iceland. A majority of whale-watching tourists in Iceland did not support whaling and did not think that whale-watching and whaling could exist side by side. However, 31% of respondents were unaware of Iceland's whaling before their visit and most of these indicated that prior knowledge of whaling activities would not have affected their choice of destination. More tourists had tried whale meat than either puffin or guillemot meat, suggesting that whale meat may be more strongly marketed to tourists visiting Iceland. These results suggest that not all tourists would consider boycotting travel to a whaling nation. The whale-watch industry is important to Iceland's economy, but given that the whaling industry can potentially negatively impact upon whale-watching activities, a careful analysis of the compatibility of these two industries is recommended. © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2014.

Leeney R.H.,Benguela Research and Training | Poncelet P.,Noe Conservation
Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems | Year: 2015

Sawfishes have declined dramatically in West Africa and may be extinct throughout much of their historical range. Guinea-Bissau is considered to be one of the last remaining places in West Africa where sawfish persist. Fishers' ecological knowledge (FEK) can provide valuable baseline data, which can be used to direct scientific studies, in situations where information is scarce or lacking and can also provide insight into local attitudes towards species of interest. Interview surveys were used to collect FEK data on the past and current range of sawfishes within Guinea-Bissau waters, perceived causes of the decline amongst fishermen, and the cultural importance of this species to Bissau-Guineans. Data were collected from 274 respondents, of whom 85% could identify a sawfish from an image. The majority of respondents reported to have last seen a sawfish in the 1980s, although this varied considerably by region, and 30% of respondents in the south had seen or captured sawfishes in the past decade up to and including 2012. Overfishing or excessive fishing pressure was most frequently cited as a perceived cause for the decline in sawfish, followed by shark finning and overseas fishermen. The sawfish is primarily of cultural importance in the Bijagos Islands, where it is central to many traditional ceremonies. This information provides valuable insight into the cultural importance of sawfish to Bissau-Guineans and their concerns in relation to the sustainability of their local fishery resources. Information on recent catches will be useful for directing future work to locate and protect remaining sawfish in Guinea-Bissau. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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