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Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales - IUCN

Dolphins, Porpoises, and Whales - IUCN

of its recovery

of its recovery and the absence of any immediate threat to its survival, this stock of gray whales was removed from the U.S. Endangered Species List in June 1994. Most of the I WC annual catch limit of 178 gray whales is allocated to Russia for the benefit of aboriginal communities in Chukotka (Krupnik 1987, Sander 1992). The gray whale's coastal migration and inshore distribution in winter create the conditions for conflict with many human activities. In compaTrison with some of the more oceanic cetaceans, individual gray whales may be more vulnerable to disturbance, collisions with fishing gear (Fig. 8) and vessels, oil spills and other forms of pollution, and habitat modification or destruction. However, such problems seem not to have significantly impeded the eastern stock's recovery from depletion. Pygmy Right Whale {Caperea marginata) This species has a circumpolar distribution in temperate and subantarctic waters of the Southern Ocean (Baker 1985, Pavey 1992). It is one of the least known of all cetaceans. Very few pygmy right whales are known to have been taken (Ross et al. 1975), and no conservation problems have been identified. Commerson's Dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii) Commerson's dolphin occurs in two disjunct populations: one in the western South Atlantic including the Falkland Islands (Islas Malvinas) area and the Strait of Magellan, and one near the Kerguelen Islands in the southern Indian Ocean (Goodall 1994a). The South American population has been subjected to harpooning (mainly for crab bait), accidental capture in fishing gear, and some live-capture for oceanaria (Goodall et al. 1988a, Leatherwood et al. 1988b, Ifiiguez 1991b). No good estimates are available on the magnitude of the catches or on the size of the population. The fragmentary information available on exploitation suggests that at least hundreds of Commerson's dolphins were killed per year during the 1970s and 1980s in southern Argentina and Chile (IWC 1985, Goodall et al. 1988a). Leatherwood et al. (1988a) estimated that there were 3,211 (SE=1,168) Commerson's dolphins present in the northeastern Strait of Magellan in early 1984, but subsequent estimates have been much smaller (cf. Venegas and Atalah 1988). The discrepancies may be the result of seasonal migrations into and out of the strait or of differences in estimation methods or observer experience. More and better data are needed to assess the conservation status of the South American pop- 22 ulation(s) of Commerson's dolphin. There is no evidence that these dolphins are hunted or taken on a significant scale in fishing gear around the Falkland Islands. The Kerguelen papulation is probably small and would be threatened by the large-scale use of gillnets in coastal waters, which however does not occur at present. French observers on board Russian trawlers working on the Kerguelen plateau have not reported any incidental kills of dolphins (D. Robineau, pers. comm.). Chilean Dolphin {Cephalorhynchus eutropia) Like other members of this genus, the Chilean dolphin has a restricted, coastal distribution. Its range is limited to Chilean coastal waters from approximately 30° S southward to southern Tierra del Fuego (Goodall et al. 1988b, Goodall 1994b). The crab bait fishery in southern Chile, in combination with a variety of other fisheries along the Chilean coast throughout the species' range, have been viewed as potentially serious threats to the Chilean dolphin. However, documentation of the numbers and species of dolphins actually taken in the various areas and fisheries is fragmentary (Goodall and Cameron 1980, Leatherwood e/a/. 1988b). No population estimates are available for any part of this dolphin's very limited range. Heaviside's Dolphin {Cephalorhynchus heavlsldil) Heaviside's dolphin (Fig. 9) inhabits coastal waters off the west coast of southern Africa (Best and Abernethy 1994). It is the most commonly sighted dolphin in Namibian waters (M. Griffin, Directorate of Wildlife, Conservation Figure 9. Heaviside's dolphin is a coastal species endemic to the southwestern coast of Africa. Little is known about its life history, ecology, and population size.

and Research, Windhoek, in litt. to M. Klinowska, January 1993). There is no evidence of a conservation problem for this species at present, but it is vulnerable by virtue of its restricted distribution. Accidental capture occurs in trawl, purse-seine, beach-seine, set, and drift nets, and small numbers are taken by hand harpoon (IWC 1985, Best and Abernethy 1994). P.B. Best and Blake Abernethy of the University of Pretoria and South African Museum have an ongoing research program for Heaviside's dolphin. Hector's Dolphin {Cephalorhynchus hector!) This dolphin is endemic to coastal waters of New Zealand (Slooten and Dawson 1994). Its total population was estimated during the mid-1980s at 5,000-6,000 (Cawthorn 1988) or 3,000-4,000 (Dawson and Slooten 1988). Numbers may have declined because of mortality in gillnets (Slooten and Lad 1991). The New Zealand Department of Conservation established a sanctuary for Hector's dolphin (and other marine mammals) around the Banks Peninsula in December 1988 (Dawson and Slooten 1993). Gillnetting is restricted in sanctuary waters primarily to prevent accidental entanglement of dolphins (see Dawson 1991b). During 1992 the CSG considered whether the RDB status of this species should be changed from Indeterminate to a more explicit category (Endangered or Vulnerable). It was agreed that Vulnerable status would be appropriate. Short-beaked and Long-beaked Common Dolphins {Delphlnus delphis and Delphinus capensis) The genus has a cosmopolitan distribution except for subpolar and polar latitudes. There is good evidence for two species in at least the eastern North Pacific (Heyning and Perrin 1994), and morphologically separable populations probably also exist in other parts of the range (e.g. there is evidence for long- and short-beaked forms in the eastern South Pacific; K. Van Waerebeek, pers. comm.). Common dolphins are generally considered shelf-edge and deepwater animals, but they occur close to shore in some areas. Although properly regarded as abundant on a worldwide basis, some populations have been heavily exploited and have declined as a result. The stock in the Black Sea has been seriously depleted by overhunting (IWC 1992a). In the western Mediterranean Sea (north of about 39° N) common dolphins have been said to be "in clear recession (due to unknown causes)" (IWC 1992a, citing Viale 1985; also see Notarbartolo di Sciara et al. 1993). Elsewhere in 23 the Mediterranean they are frequently killed in various types of fishing gear, and they are known to carry high body burdens of contaminants. The collapse offish stocks in both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, due to overexploitation and pollution, has likely affected the food supplies of common (and other) dolphins. Common dolphins are among the cetaceans that have been heavily impacted by the tuna purse seine fishery in the eastern tropical Pacific (IWC 1992a). All three stocks of concern—northern, central, and southern—were significantly reduced by the tuna fishery. The total population of common dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific (ETP) during the late 1980s was at least half a million, perhaps as high as several million. A continued decline of the northern stock in the 1980s was thought to be related to a change in dolphin distribution (Anganuzzi and Buckland 1994). Common dolphins are killed incidentally in fishing gear or taken deliberately by artisanal dolphin hunters in many areas in addition to those mentioned above, including, e.g., Sri Lanka (Leatherwood and Reeves 1989), India (Silas et al. 1984, Mohan 1988), Australia (annual progress reports to IWC), the United States (Waring et al. 1990), Spain (trawlers in the Bay of Biscay and tuna longlines in the Northeast Atlantic;/zde A. Collet, pers. comm.), France (trawlers in the Bay of Biscay and tuna driftnets in the Northeast Atlantic; yjde A. Collet, pers. comm., Goujon et al. 1993), Ecuador (Samaniego and Felix 1994), and Peru (Read et al. 1988). Large catches were recorded in Peru for the first time in 1987 (Van Waerebeek and Reyes 1990), and the proportion of common dolphins in the Peruvian cetacean catch has increased substantially since 1990 (Van Waerebeek et al. 1993). Fishery conflicts in Argentina were discussed by Gonzalez (1991) and Crespo et al. (in press). Pygmy Killer Whale (Feresa attenuata) The pygmy killer whale is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical waters worldwide (Ross and Leatherwood 1994). Small numbers are taken in a variety of fisheries, both directly and incidentally. Since the pygmy killer whale is probably naturally fairly uncommon, such takes could have disproportionate significance on at least a local or regional scale. Short-finned Pilot Whale {Globicephala macrorhynchus) This species occurs in tropical to warm-temperate waters worldwide, and its distribution extends into cold-temperate waters in the North Pacific. Stocks are ill-defined except off Japan, where two morphologically distinct, allopatric

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