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Dolphin sightings: Highest numbers recorded in Salak-Santubong, Bintulu-Similajau

on 05 April 2010.

By ZORA CHAN


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TWO areas in the state, Salak-Santubong and Bintulu-Similajau, have been identified as having the highest sightings of small cetaceans or dolphins.

Encounter rates for Irrawaddy dolphins are highest in Salak-Santubong while those for finless porpoises are highest in Bintulu-Similajau.

A Universiti Malaysia Sarawak researcher Cindy Peter said the species’ preference for nearshore habitats rendered them vulnerable to threats such as fisheries by-catch and habitat degradation from coastal development.

“Two other species sighted were bottlenose dolphins and Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins,” she said at the Sarawak Biological Resources Forum 2010 in Kuching.

Endangered species: Irrawaddy dolphins seen off the Santubong coast near Kuching.

Cindy was one of the presenters at the three-day forum organised by the Sarawak Forestry Department, Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

She said the study entitled Distribution of Small Cetaceans in the Nearshore Waters of Sarawak focussing on the Miri, Bintulu and Kuching regions was carried out with Gianna Minton.

“There were 115 dolphin sightings between June 2008 and September 2009,” she added.

“All four species, classified as vulnerable, data deficient or near-threatened on the World Conservation Union Redlist of Endangered Species, are considered high priority for conservation efforts.”

Cindy said that continued research on small cetaceans was pivotal to help policy makers design effective conservation strategies.

Source: The Star Online

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