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Occurrence, distribution and composition of marine mammals in the bight of Bony, Nigeria

Gideon Wole Olakunle
Ajuonu Ndubisi


Information on the distribution, occurrence and population structure of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) of the Atlantic coast of Nigeria in West Africa remains fairly sparse to date, with few detailed studies being conducted on this valuable marine resource. This paper highlights the abundant cetacean community sighted in the Nigerian coastal waters and the respective importance of this area as a prime coastal habitat for these mammals. The secondary objective was the evaluation of this resource and development of appropriate
management policies. Opportunistic data was collected on board six different marine vessels belonging to some international oil  companies (IOC) in Nigeria, whose primary objective was to conduct seismic operations. 8,327 hours and 36 minutes of effort was logged during 2 wet and 3 dry seasons respectively, covering almost 880 km2 at a depth range of 10 to 70 m. The total number of individuals recorded was 2199 of which 80% were dolphins and 20% were whales. Out of these, 55.14% was sighted at depth range of 21 – 30 m. This was followed by 30.42% recorded at depth range of 31 - 40 m. The least frequency of 0.75 % was recorded at depth range of 61- 70m. Five hundred and twenty-five (525) individual whales was recorded, out of which 77.14% were adults and 22.86% were  juveniles, while 1674 individual dolphins were recorded with 52.63% juveniles and 47.37% adult. Four species of dolphins were  identified. The bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus was the most abundant owing to the large size of the groups observed, followed by common dolphin, Delphinus delphis. All species of dolphins identified occurred throughout the sampling months. Two species of whales were identified with the humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) predominant and killer whales (Orcinus orca) which seem to be present in just a part of a year. Nigerian coastal water is moderately rich in cetacean diversity, which is currently underreported due to limited research.

Keywords: Whales, dolphins, species diversity, opportunistic surveys, Nigeria.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1997-342X
print ISSN: 1991-8631