Cetaceans observed in Suriname and adjacent waters


  • Marijke Nita de Boer Wageningen IMARES, Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies, The Netherlands; Seven Seas Marine Consultancy, The Netherlands




Cetaceans, Guianas, Suriname, Platform of Opportunity, Wider Caribbean Region


Very little information exists about the cetaceans in the Guianas: Suriname and its neighboring countries Guyana and French Guiana. During a dedicated cetacean survey carried out from a geophysical seismic survey vessel in the offshore waters of Suriname (May-September 2012), the occurrence of 13 cetacean species was documented and of those, 11 were newly documented for this area. The species observed by the author included sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), Bryde’s whale (Balaenoptera edeni), false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens), melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra), roughtoothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis), long-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus capensis), Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei), pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) and spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris). During transit to the survey area (Trinidad to Suriname) incidental sightings were recorded which included common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) off Trinidad, Stenella sp. off Guyana and Guiana dolphin (Sotalia guianensis) at the entrance of the Suriname River. Opportunistic records originating from the periods December 2008-March 2009 and August-October 2012 were forwarded to the author. These records included common bottlenose dolphin, Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) and short-finned pilot whale (Globicephala macrorhynchus). There is a growing need to identify critical areas for marine biodiversity conservation, both locally and regionally. This paper describes the general occurrence of the cetacean community encountered in Suriname waters in summer. The study revealed that the offshore cetacean community in Suriname is best described as primarily a tropical community, dominated by odontocetes (dolphins and sperm whales). Although the species diversity was relatively high, the overall cetacean relative abundance index (number of animals per 100km effort) was low, which is consistent for tropical equatorial offshore waters. Apart from the sperm whale and the Guiana dolphin, all the other species recorded represent new species records for Suriname. It is recommended that more continuous monitoring in different seasons be carried out in order to gain a better understanding of the occurrence, distribution and status of the different cetacean species within the region.



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