Below is a brief report released after the 2009 ETS Sousa Habitat Workshop.
Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin habitat in Taiwan:
Report of an international expert panel convened in Taipei, Nov 2-5 2009
Taipei (November 5, 2009): An international panel of scientists convened in Taipei to propose boundaries for priority habitat for a critically endangered population of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Taiwan. With fewer than 100 individuals remaining, this isolated population is found in the shallow, nearshore waters of central western Taiwan. These dolphins are threatened by pollution, noise, bycatch in fishing nets, and habitat changes caused by reduced release of water to estuaries and land reclamation.
The panel was convened at the request of the Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG), a scientific body with 17 national and international experts on marine mammal biology and ecology. The panel spent three days drafting a plan to describe and propose priority habitat, considered as necessary to their survival and recovery.
The expert panel will be delivering its manuscript to a scientific journal for review and publication shortly, thereby enabling wide international review of the proposal. While this work focused on preparing a scientific rationale for priority habitat for this dolphin population, it is hoped that government, industry and non-governmental sectors can use the proposal as a basis for enacting protection measures.
Briefly, the panel proposes a priority habitat area with boundaries to the north of the Danshui River estuary down along the western coast to just south of Tseng-Wen River estuary. The boundaries will extend from the shoreline (relative to the lowest high tide of the year) out 3 km (relative to the lowest low tide of the year), or to the 30 m depth mark, whichever is further from the shore. This priority habitat area includes all waters within which there have been confirmed sightings of these dolphins, as well as areas to the north and south and further offshore that are deemed ‘suitable’ for dolphin use based on known habitat preferences.
The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins of Taiwan will go extinct in the absence of immediate protection measures which target fisheries, water use, construction, waste discharge, and noise-producing practices within this priority habitat area.
The Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group was pleased and encouraged by the progress made by numerous government agencies in considering the plight of this dolphin population, and looks forward to further dialogue and information exchange among all parties. The ETSSTAWG remains freely available for expert consultation on any scientific question concerning these dolphins and their habitat.
For further information contact:
- Dr Peter S. Ross, Chairman, Eastern Taiwan Strait Sousa Technical Advisory Working Group (ETSSTAWG) (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Dr Randall R. Reeves, Chairman, IUCN Cetacean Specialist Group (email@example.com)
2009 ETS Sousa Habitat Workshop
Taiwan's Humpback Dolphins face extinction
SMM Conference, Québec City: Workshop - Critical habitat delineation for critically endangered Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in Taiwan