Plettenberg Bay, South Africa
Plettenberg Bay, South Africa

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Van Bressem M.-F.,Cetacean Conservation Medicine Group CMED | Simoes-Lopes P.C.,Federal University of Santa Catarina | Felix F.,Museo de Ballenas | Kiszka J.J.,Florida International University | And 12 more authors.
Diseases of Aquatic Organisms | Year: 2015

We report on the epidemiology of lobomycosis-like disease (LLD), a cutaneous disorder evoking lobomycosis, in 658 common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus from South America and 94 Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins T. aduncus from southern Africa. Photographs and stranding records of 387 inshore residents, 60 inshore non-residents and 305 specimens of undetermined origin (inshore and offshore) were examined for the presence of LLD lesions from 2004 to 2015. Seventeen residents, 3 non-residents and 1 inshore dolphin of unknown residence status were positive. LLD lesions appeared as single or multiple, light grey to whitish nodules and plaques that may ulcerate and increase in size over time. Among resident dolphins, prevalence varied significantly among 4 communities, being low in Posorja (2.35%, n = 85), Ecuador, and high in Salinas, Ecuador (16.7%, n = 18), and Laguna, Brazil (14.3%, n = 42). LLD prevalence increased in 36 T. truncatus from Laguna from 5.6% in 2007-2009 to 13.9% in 2013-2014, albeit not significantly. The disease has persisted for years in dolphins from Mayotte, Laguna, Salinas, the Sanquianga National Park and Bahía Málaga (Colombia) but vanished from the Tramandaí Estuary and the Mampituba River (Brazil). The geographical range of LLD has expanded in Brazil, South Africa and Ecuador, in areas that have been regularly surveyed for 10 to 35 yr. Two of the 21 LLD-affected dolphins were found dead with extensive lesions in southern Brazil, and 2 others disappeared, and presumably died, in Ecuador. These observations stress the need for targeted epidemiological, histological and molecular studies of LLD in dolphins, especially in the Southern Hemisphere. © Inter-Research 2015.

Huisamen J.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Kirkman S.P.,Oceans and Coasts | Kirkman S.P.,University of Cape Town | Watson L.H.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | And 3 more authors.
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2011

The Cape fur seal Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus colony at Robberg Peninsula, Plettenberg Bay, on the south-east coast of South Africa, was driven to extinction by indiscriminate harvesting by the late 1800s. Seals only began to recolonise this site in the 1990s. This study describes the recolonisation process from 2000 to 2009, exploring both within- and between-year count data of seals using the site. Counts increased over the study period from <300 animals to >3 100. Generalised linear models indicated the importance of year and month in explaining variability in the counts. Withinyear variability in the counts decreased over the study period, which may be related to an increasing proportion of resident (as opposed to transient) seals in the colony. However, the colony is currently still in a transition phase with a low ratio of breeding to non-breeding animals, based on the low numbers of pups born in the colony (currently still <100 per year). The influx of seals to the Robberg area may be associated with shifts in prey availability at the ecosystem level. The colony benefits from the protection afforded by the reserve status of the Robberg Peninsula and the existence of a marine protected area adjacent to it. However, human interference associated with fishing and/or ecotourism on the peninsula may inhibit development into a substantial breeding colony. Potential interventions for the conservation and management of this colony are discussed. © 2011 Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Huisamen J.,Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University | Kirkman S.P.,Oceans and Coasts | Kirkman S.P.,University of Cape Town | van der Lingen C.D.,Branch Fisheries | And 7 more authors.
African Journal of Marine Science | Year: 2012

Cape fur seals Arctocephalus pusillus pusillus were harvested to extirpation on the Robberg Peninsula, Plettenberg Bay, on the south-east coast of South Africa, between the 17th and early 20th centuries. Seals returned to Robberg in small numbers during the early 1990s and their numbers subsequently increased. We studied the diet of this increasing population using faecal (scat) sampling to determine: the species composition and size of prey in the diet of Cape fur seals at Robberg; to explore temporal variation in the diet; and to investigate the potential for competition between seals and the fisheries around Plettenberg Bay. Of the 445 scats collected, 90% contained hard prey remains and 15 teleost prey species were represented in the 3 127 otoliths that could be identified. The seals' most important prey species in terms of numerical abundance, frequency of occurrence and mass in the diet, were anchovy Engraulis encrasicolus, sardine Sardinops sagax, horse mackerel Trachurus capensis, sand tongue-fish Cynoglossus capensis and shallow-water hake Merluccius capensis (in decreasing order of importance for numerical abundance). The proportion of anchovy in the diet increased during the study period (2003-2008), whereas the proportion of sardine decreased. The estimated average annual consumption of sardine by seals was higher than the average annual catch made by purse-seine fisheries in this area, suggesting resource competition between seals and purse-seiners, especially in the light of continuing growth of seal numbers in the area. However, direct competition between seals and linefisheries appeared to be minimal. Scat sampling of Cape fur seals holds potential to serve a useful and cost effective indicator of temporal changes in sardine abundance. © 2012 Copyright NISC (Pty) Ltd.

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