Atlantic humpback dolphins Sousa teuszii in the Saloum Delta (Senegal): distribution, relative abundance and photo-identification
During October and November 2015, the first systematic survey of Sousa teuszii was carried out in the Saloum Delta (Senegal, West Africa), comprising 1 617.5 km of boat-based survey coverage. Thirty sightings were recorded in the Saloum and Diomboss rivers, and along the southern coastline. Dolphins were also observed entering the Bandiala and Djinack channels, and travelling across the border into Gambia. The initial sighting locations were 0.043–1.192 km from shore, and tracked dolphins did not move more than 2.082 km from shore. Groups comprised 1–29 animals (mean 9.3 animals), and at least three neonate calves were observed during November. The overall relative abundance was 0.018 sight. km−1 and 0.175 ind. km−1. Sightings were concentrated in the Diomboss where relative abundance reached 0.037 sight. km−1 and 0.331 ind. km−1. Non-intensive photo-identification produced a minimum population size of 103 animals, the highest recorded for S. teuszii anywhere in its range. Photo-identification also confirmed a movement of individuals between different parts of the Saloum Delta. Combined travel–forage dominated the behaviour. Dolphins were photographed capturing mullet (Mugil sp.) on three occasions. The distribution, population size and movements of S. teuszii are discussed in relation to management.
Keywords: Africa, calving period, Diomboss, feeding, habitat, mullet, population size, prey