Abstract: Little is known about the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins that inhabit the coastal waters of Madagascar. We examine what is currently known about humpback dolphins around Madagascar from a variety of sources, ranging from interviews to surveys, to provide some initial information on distribution and threats. Interviews and boat-based surveys were conducted in 1997, 1998, and 1999 to evaluate the presence and status of Sousa chinensis along the western coast of Madagascar. From these surveys and through other sources of information, it appears that humpback dolphins may largely be restricted to the west coast. Approximately 65 humpback dolphins were observed in five groups (mean group size of 13) off Anakao, a village south of Toliara, during boat-based surveys conducted in 1999. Direct takes and incidental mortality in shark nets are the two known threats to cetaceans in the waters of western Madagascar. Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins were among the dolphin species intentionally targeted for their meat in south-western Madagascar. From interview surveys, 22 humpback dolphins had been recorded as directly hunted and an additional 30 animals as "stranded" in Anakao between 1985 and 1999. Additional research and conservation measures are needed to better monitor the population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in Madagascar's coastal waters.
Key Words: INDO-PACIFIC HUMPBACK DOLPHIN; SOUSA CHINENSIS; RELATIVE ABUNDANCE; DISTRIBUTION; FISHING; DIRECT-TAKES; INCIDENTAL MORTALITY; CONSERVATION
Document Type: Research Article
Page Numbers: 103-110