Just the other day i blogged about how, as a direct result of bycatch, the IUCN had uplisted both the Irrawaddy dolphin and the finless porpoise to Endangered status. I thought that was depressing enough but more bad news was to follow with the elevation of Atlantic humpback dolphins to Critically Endangered status and Indian Ocean humpback dolphins being elevated to Endangered status – what is happening to our flippered friends? Why are we decimating thier populations with such ease and consistency?
It was only recently that the Indo-Pacific dolphin was separated into distinct species and this news of their precariously low population numbers brings home the magnitude of the situation facing humpback dolphins across their range.
Atlantic humpback dolphins are only found in shallow, nearshore waters along the western coast of north and central Africa. Only 20 years ago the species was classified as Data Deficient, meaning that we didn’t know enough about them to classify them, 10 years later research showed them to be Vulnerable, today that status is now Critically Endangered with the species having seen a reduction of approximately 80% in the past 75 years. The recdution in their numbers – approx. 1,500 mature individuals remain – is a direct result of bycatch and other coastal developments.
The Indian Ocean humpback dolphin was only recently classified as a distinct species from the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin and is found, as its name suggests, in the Indian Ocean from South Africa to India. as with other humpback dolphins, they live in nearshore waters and have a restricted range, meaning that human activities, and predominantly bycatch, are resulting in their population decline.