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The whales are here!

  The whales are here! By Monique Laubscher The season for spectacular whale sightings is upon us! Every year the southern right whales migrate from Antarctica – their icy cold feeding grounds – to the warmer waters off South Africa. The warmer climates off our coastline provide the perfect habitat for breeding, calving and rearing of […]

Occurrence and distribution of cetaceans in Namibian waters

Occurrence and distribution of cetaceans in Namibian waters

A summary of Pauline Glotin’s MSc thesis, 2016

 

The Benguela upwelling, situated in the west coast of Angola, Namibia and South Africa, is a region highly productive and biologically diverse. Namibia was one of the world’s largest whaling areas in the 20th century and with at least 25 species known to occur here, hosts more than 60% of the world’s whale and dolphin species (Best, 2007). Despite this – knowledge about cetacean fauna is remarkably poor.

Figure 1: Map of the Benguela current upwelling system (Kirkman et al., 2015)

Figure 1: Map of the Benguela current upwelling system (Kirkman et al., 2015)


The main aims of my study were to provide an updated description of cetacean diversity within Namibian waters, especially within and adjacent to the Namibian Islands Marine Protected Area (NIMPA), and to predict the spatial and seasonal distribution patterns of the cetaceans in coastal and offshore Namibia.

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The importance of Citizen Science

   

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Author: Marthe Sandra Ango

What does citizen science mean?                                            

For centuries, amateurs have participated and contributed to scientific research, mainly in the areas of astronomy and ornithology. Nowadays this practice, named citizen science or crowd-sourcing, is defined as the collaboration of non-specialist volunteers (“amateurs”) in both thinking and data collection for scientific purposes. This practice is different from the traditional help of undergraduate field assistants as it requires scientists and researchers to work with the public. Citizen science projects follow one of three patterns:

  • The initiators of projects are community-based groups and engage with scientists for advice/supervision.
  • Both scientists and amateurs gather for a mutual project. In this case, the pattern closely follows that of the “learned societies” back in the enlightenment era.
  • Scientists need public involvement to conduct a survey.

Citizen science has many benefits. The first benefit observed is to advance the knowledge and understanding of the world. In 1874, the British government funded a citizen project named the Transit of Venus. This project aimed to measure the distance from the Earth to the sun. Thus, citizen science is also a powerful tool for education and conservation purposes. In 1900, the most famous project started, the Christmas Bird Count, as an alternative to bird hunting around the Christmas holidays. Another benefit of this practice is to provide a bridge between science and the public.

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The 4th African Marine Mammal Colloquium

All marine mammal scientists of southern Africa are more  than welcome to join us at the African Marine Mammal Colloquium. It is an opportunity to present your work, share and collaborate with others scientists. All abstracts are accepted, so feel free to submit yours!

Whatever your expectations are, they will be fulfilled.

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Tricks to recognize a common dolphin

Long-beaked common dolphin

 

Adult Length:

Long-beaked common dolphins in the subregion reach maximun lengths of 2.5 m in males and 2.2 m in females.

Appearance

Common dolphins are relatively easy to distinguish from other small dolphins at sea from the distinctive criss-cross marking on the side.

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Colour

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We as Marine Scientists, we deal with marine pollution

Water is Work

 “No water no jobs” is the sentence we can read in the UN World Water Day campaign. This year’s purpose is to highlight the links between water, jobs and sustainable developments. Indeed, water  is essential for life,  but it is also essential for jobs.

 One and a half billion people (half of the world’s workers) work in water related sectors.   According to the report released on the 22th of march, the population in Earth  will grow a 33% between 2011 and 2050 (from 7 billion to 9,3 billion). Due to increasing population,one of  the main issues will be the global food security.

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Playlist shuffle: The daily acoustic repertoire of bottlenose dolphins

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Anja Badenas, MSc Student on Marine Biodiversity and Conservation

 

Playlist shuffle: the daily acoustic repertoire of bottlenose dolphins

 

As mentioned on the previous post , bottlenose dolphins rely on sound production for orientation, feeding and communication with con-specifics. It is therefore of great importance to study their vocalization repertoire as it can provide important information on their habitat use and responses to human induced stress. Acoustic monitoring using hydrophones (underwater microphones) to record the different vocalizations naturally produced by dolphins is particularly important in coastal habitats, where dolphins may be affected by boat traffic noise and coastal construction.

spectogram

Spectogram showing different bottlenose dolphin vocalizations.BP = burst pulse, W=whistle, LFN=Low frequency narrowband sounds. (from Gridley et al. 2015).

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Did you know…bottlenose dolphins have names and friends?

Sound travels 4 TIMES FASTER in water than air and most whales and dolphins rely on sound to communicate and find food.

Bottlenose dolphins can develop individually distinctive SIGNATURE WHISTLES in the first year of life. Somewhat like a NAME, these whistles are used to help dolphins stay in contact and address each other.

Bottlenose dolphins also use ECHOLOCATION CLICKS to find and track their prey.

Small groups join together and split up frequently. This is called a FISSION-FUSION SOCIETY.

Some individual dolphins consistently associate with each other- much like friends

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