Coast KZN

04 Dec 2020

New dolphins in the wild study published

Dave Savides (Zululand Observer)

While the ongoing study of the highly-endangered Humpback dolphins at Richards Bay is well documented, this is not the only dolphin study being undertaken in South Africa. A new study, published in Frontiers in Marine Science this week, highlights the need for more detailed and continuous monitoring of wild dolphin populations off KwaZulu-Natal.

The study is entitled ‘Long-term demographic and spatio-temporal trends of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus) bycatch in bather protection nets off KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa’.

As the title suggests, the study examines data collected on Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins incidentally caught in the bather protection nets off KZN between January 1980 and December 2015.

‘Our study showed that we need revised abundance estimates, information on the movement patterns, as well as population structuring of the dolphin populations off that coastline,’ said lead author, Dr Stephanie Plön, from the Bayworld Centre for Research and Education (BCRE).

‘That information is essential to really understand the impact the shark nets, as well as other factors, such as pollution and shipping, may have on our wild dolphin populations. Of course there needs to be a continuous effort to find alternatives to the shark nets, and we don’t condone them by any means. However, our data also shows that the efforts by the KZN Sharks Board to reduce dolphin bycatch in the shark nets have been effective over the past three decades, and we did not find any evidence of a long-term decline in dolphins, as was previously predicted.’