Cetacean occurrence and diversity in whale-watching waters off Mirissa, Southern Sri Lanka

Sankalpa, Dissanayake Mudiyanselage Rajitha, Thilakarathne, Elle Pathirathnalage Darshana Nuwan, Lin, Wenzhi, Thilakanayaka, Vidusanka, Kumarasinghe, Chathurika Piumi, Liu, Mingming, Lin, Mingli and Li, Songhai (2021) Cetacean occurrence and diversity in whale-watching waters off Mirissa, Southern Sri Lanka. Integrative Zoology, 16 (4). pp. 462-476. ISSN 1749-4877

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Scientific information is vital to the conservation of cetaceans and the management of whale-watching activities. The southern coastal waters of Sri Lanka are near a narrow continental shelf and biologically abundant in cetacean species. Although the occurrence of cetaceans has been investigated in certain waters of Sri Lanka, few surveys have been conducted along the southern coast. To fill this gap, we conducted boat-based surveys from January to May 2017 to investigate the occurrence, diversity, and behavior of cetaceans in the waters off Mirissa, covering a survey area of 788.9 km2. During 55 survey days, we recorded a total of 242 cetacean sightings and identified at least 9 species (3 mysticetes and 6 odontocetes). The blue whale was the most common mysticete species (167 of 174 mysticete encounters), followed by the Omura's whale (4 of 174) and Bryde's whale (3 of 174). The spinner dolphin was the most common odontocete species (28 of 68 odontocete encounters), followed by the sperm whale (18 of 68), common bottlenose dolphin (13 of 68), short-finned pilot whale (5 of 68), melon-headed whale (2 of 68), and killer whale. Blue whales and sperm whales exhibited a clear preference for outer shelf and high slope areas, and blue whales were observed feeding along these waters. The present study provides near-baseline information on cetacean occurrence and diversity in whale-watching waters off southern Sri Lanka, and highlights the urgent need for proper management strategies for whale-watching activities.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Author acknowledgements: The authors would like to thank everyone who helped data collection and analysis during the research and preparation of the paper. We are especially grateful to Mr. R. S. Madushanka for providing the boat, crew, field support, and input during the study period. We thank the National Hydrographic Office of the National Aquatic Resource Research & Development Agency (NARA) for their support in various ways and we thank all of the fishermen who shared their knowledge with us. The data analysis and paper writing were financially supported by the “One Belt and One Road” Science and Technology Cooperation Special Program of the International Partnership Program of Chinese Academy of Sciences (Grant number 183446KYSB20200016), and the Indian Ocean Ninety‐East Ridge Ecosystem and Marine Environment Monitoring and Protection, Supported by the China Ocean Mineral Resources R & D Association (no. DY135‐E2‐4). This work was performed under an Ethical Statement with the number of IDSSE‐SYLL‐MMMBL‐01.
Uncontrolled Keywords: cetaceans,diversity index,dolphins,sri lanka,whale-watching,animal science and zoology ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1100/1103
Faculty \ School: Faculty of Science > School of Environmental Sciences
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 20 Mar 2023 14:53
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2024 04:32
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/91600
DOI: 10.1111/1749-4877.12540

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