WCS Madagascar

Coastal Dolphins

There are approximately 80 described species of cetaceans worldwide, all of which are listed in the IUCN Red List and in CITES Appendix I. Approximately 30 species, including 9 baleen whales and 21 toothed whales and dolphins, are known or thought to occur in coastal and pelagic waters around Madagascar. All of them without distinction are strictly protected under Malagasy fisheries law 93-022.

The Indo-Pacific Humpback dolphin (Sousa chinensis) is a gregarious coastal inshore dolphin occurring near reefs, mangroves and estuaries, that lives in relatively small group sizes with low population abundance.  Their habitual and apparent obligatory utilization of very near-shore, shallow waters makes them highly vulnerable to hunting, incidental capture in fishing nets, habitat loss and pollution. Estimates suggest that humpback dolphins have declined by as much as 30% across much of their range. In Madagascar, humpback dolphins have been recorded around Nosy Be, Mahajanga and Toliara, and WCS socio-ecological surveys suggest extensive distribution along the west coast, but with no reports from the east coast north of Fort Dauphin. Humpback dolphins have been regularly found in mixed species schools with Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) which also has a relatively near-shore and shallow water habitat requirement, but is found around all coasts of Madagascar. Both Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins and bottlenose dolphins are actively hunted by traditional Vezo fishers particularly in the southwest region, along with large groups of Spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), and sometimes get entangled in shark nets. Humpback dolphins are generally considered to be the most threatened cetacean in Madagascar, although some sub-populations of bottlenose dolphins may be equally threatened (such as in the southwest). 

WCS has been working in the southwest of Madagascar to assess the population status of these three coastal dolphins, assess the impact from traditional hunting and fisheries, and to institute on the ground conservation measures to mitigate hunting pressure by work directly with Vezo communities that 

Ket Staff


WCS Madagascar Program
Villa Ifanomezantsoa, Soavimbahoaka - P.O. Box 8500 - Antananarivo 101, Madagascar
+261 20 22 597 89