Cetacean rapid assessment: An approach to fill knowledge gaps and target conservation across large data deficient areas Aquat. Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst. 2017 1-15
Gill T. Braulik Magreth Kasuga Anja Wittich Jeremy J. Kiszka Jamie MacCaulay Doug Gillespie Jonathan Gordon Said Shaib Said Philip S. Hammond
1. Many species and populations of marine megafauna are undergoing substantial declines, while
many are also very poorly understood. Even basic information on species presence is unknown
for tens of thousands of kilometres of coastline, particularly in the developing world, which is a
major hurdle to their conservation.
2. Rapid ecological assessment is a valuable tool used to identify and prioritize areas for
conservation; however, this approach has never been clearly applied to marine cetaceans. Here
a rapid assessment protocol is outlined that will generate broadÃ¢â‚¬Âscale, quantitative, baseline
data on cetacean communities and potential threats, that can be conducted rapidly and costeffectively
across whole countries, or regions.
3. The rapid assessment was conducted in Tanzania, East Africa, and integrated collection of data
on cetaceans from visual, acoustic, and interview surveys with existing information from multiple
sources, to provide low resolution data on cetacean community relative abundance, diversity, and
threats. Four principal threats were evaluated and compared spatially using a qualitative scale:
cetacean mortality in fishing gear (particularly gillnets); cetacean hunting, consumption or use by
humans; shipping related collision risk and noise disturbance; and dynamite fishing.
4. NinetyÃ¢â‚¬Âone groups of 11 species of marine mammal were detected during field surveys. Potentially
the most important area for cetaceans was the Pemba Channel, a deep, highÃ¢â‚¬Âcurrent
waterway between Pemba Island and mainland Africa, where by far the highest relative
cetacean diversity and high relative abundance were recorded, but which is also subject to
threats from fishing.
5. A rapid assessment approach can be applied in data deficient areas to quickly provide
information on cetaceans that can be used by governments and managers for marine spatial
planning, management of developments, and to target research activities into the most