Learn more about the species we study in Namibia. These include Heaviside’s, bottlenose and dusky dolphins, humpback and southern right whales as well as non-cetacean species including sunfish (Mola mola) and leatherback turtles.
Leatherback turtles cross entire oceans in search of food. The large amount of gelatinous plankton (jellyfish) in the Benguela ecosystem makes for a potentially rewarding journey for turtles in the South Atlantic. Leatherbacks from at least 3 breeding populations have been found in or tracked to Namibian waters, but just how important is this area for the species?
The population of bottlenose dolphins which are seen in Walvis Bay and central Namibia are unique within the Benguela ecosystem. This population numbers less than 100, their numbers within Walvis Bay are decreasing and their very coastal range usually in waters <30m deep means they come into contact with humans frequently
Dusky dolphins are the least known of the ‘coastal’ dolphins of southern Africa. In Namibia, they hardly ever come close to shore, although they do down in South Africa. By looking at patterns across their range we hope to understand how they interact with their ecosystem
Humpback whales migrating past the Namibian coast are on their way between feeding grounds in the Antarctic and breeding grounds off West Africa. Despite being one of the most studied large whales in the region, we still don’t fully understand the population structure of this once over-hunted species. Observations from Namibia may help to elucidate these patterns.
Heaviside’s dolphins are endemic to the Benguela ecosystem on the south west coast of Africa. In Namibia they occur in abundance around Luderitz and Walvis Bay where they can be easily be seen close to shore in the mornings. Their density outside of these areas is currently unknown but we will be investigating it in 2012 using ship based surveys.
Southern right whales are still rare within Namibia but as the African population increases we expect to see more and more in Namibian waters as their range expands.
At least 25 species of cetacean occur in Namibian waters, although only about 5 are seen regularly during our inshore surveys. Collation of all species records is important for understanding which species occur here, how they are related to other populations and changes in occurrence and distribution patterns over time. We are doing this through recording all cetacean sightings at sea and development of a strandings network