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Abundance, distribution and behaviour of common dolphins, Delphinus spp., off north-eastern Venezuela: implications for conservation and management

  • Lenin Oviedo (a1) (a2), María Alejandra Esteves (a1), Romina Acevedo (a2), Noemi Silva (a2), Jaime Bolaños-Jiménez (a3), Ana María Quevedo (a4) and Marc Fernández (a5)...
Abstract

The north-eastern coast of Venezuela hosts a high diversity of megafauna, particularly related with high productivity due to coastal upwelling. This area is mainly characterized by the existence of the primary fisheries in Venezuela, mostly supported by a great abundance of small pelagic species. This would explain why the area supports a wide range of marine top predators, including cetaceans. The current status of cetacean populations off north-eastern Venezuela is uncertain, mainly because research efforts have been very sparse. There are still many gaps of information in cetacean biology to establish a solid baseline that can be used for management decisions. Common dolphins (Delphinus spp.) are widely dispersed over the whole north-east basin, including waters off Araya and Paria Peninsula and around Margarita, Coche and Cubagua Islands. Areas of higher densities for Delphinus spp. coincide with the focal location of sardine fisheries and the most-active upwelling on the north-eastern coast. Therefore, a scheme of management should consider the areas of major productivity along the coast as potential critical habitat for the species. Further data collection is recommended, increasing aspects such as trophic ecology and the continuity of behavioural sampling, paired with systematic line transect estimation.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence should be addressed to: L. Oviedo, Proyecto Delphinus, Margarita Island, Venezuela email: leninovi1@gmail.com
References
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