We hear about it far too often these days; species losing their fight for survival. 100 left of this animal, 1000 left of that, really too many sobering statistics to comprehend.
One of the dolphin species that we encounter on our trips is one such species in decline. We therefore consider ourselves rather fortunate, because very often on our trips we get to see the rare and endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin. It is a beautiful animal, and wonderful to observe in their wild environment.
It is hardly surprising that they are seen so along our stretch of coastline, which includes pristine areas such as the Goukamma Nature Reserve which is a Marine Protected Area (MPA) that extends 18km along-shore and one nautical mile offshore. It is a reserve of exceptional beauty, rich in species both in and out of the water.
This dolphin species, usually seen in small pods no larger than 10 individuals, has been direly affected due to their propensity for
Ocean Odyssey values the importance of our rich aquatic environment and is committed to marine conservation endeavours. They have partnered to assist students from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University’s Department of Zoology with essential research into certain marine species. They are currently working with Danielle Conry, who is doing her masters on the rare Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, members of the genus sousa (Sousa chinensis). Several times a month, Ocean Odyssey takes Danielle on full day survey trips, covering a broad area just off shore of our coastline while she collects valuable data on the humpback dolphin. Individuals are identified by the unique shape of their dorsal fins, and photographs are taken of each dolphin and put into a data base. This allows them to study and thus measure population numbers and breeding patterns and is invaluable research into this rare species.
They also seem to love feeding within the protected waters of Buffalo Bay and the reefs near Brenton. It is a shallow water species usually found congregating in small groups of up to seven or so individuals, mostly around rocky reefs or sand gullies, rarely deeper than about 30 metres. Unfortunately there is limited scientific data on this species of dolphin, but what is known is that they are vulnerable and their numbers are in decline. They have been listed as Vulnerable on South Africa’s Red Data list. It is therefore a huge privilege for us to see them so often within our Knysna waters and a really positive sign when we see mother and calf pairs.
Off South Africa the species is observed along the entire southeast coast with a population estimate of no more than 1000 individuals. Their propensity for frequenting inshore areas makes them extremely vulnerable to the negative influence of humans; bad fishing practises and in shore pollution.