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Walvis Bay, Namibia

Leeney R.,Namibian Dolphin Project | 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. Source

Leeney R.H.,Provincetown Center for Coastal Studies | Carslake D.,University of Warwick | Elwen S.H.,Namibian Dolphin Project | Elwen S.H.,University of Pretoria
Aquatic Mammals | Year: 2011

Static acoustic monitoring is a cost-effective, low-effort means of gathering large datasets on echolocation click characteristics and habitat use by odontocetes. Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii) were monitored using an acoustic monitoring unit, the T-POD, in July 2008 at a site of known high abundance for this species in Walvis Bay, Namibia. The T-POD successfully detected clicks from Heaviside's dolphins, and these clicks were detected in the 120 to 140 kHz frequency range. A distinct diel pattern to the hourly mean inter-click interval was observed, with higher values during daylight hours than at night, suggesting that click trains are produced at faster rates at night time. There was no apparent diel pattern in the proportion of buzz trains produced, however. A diel pattern in click activity was observed, with many more detection-positive minutes per hour recorded between dusk and dawn, and vocalization activity dropping to low levels in the middle of the day. This corresponded with visual observations made on abundance of dolphins in the study area. These results suggest that Heaviside's dolphins use this site primarily during the night. Static acoustic monitoring proved to be an effective technique for monitoring patterns of habitat use by Heaviside's dolphins. Source

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. Source

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