During 2018 I was delighted to be invited to contribute to a comprehensive new book describing the biodiversity of Angola. The book, titled Biodiversity of Angola. Science and Conservation: A modern synthesis, includes chapters on flora, insects, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, terrestrial mammals and cetaceans and will be published in both English and Portuguese. My chapter describes the history of cetacean research in Angola from the whaling era to the modern period of field research:
Weir, C.R. (2018). The cetaceans (whales and dolphins) of Angola. Pp 445–549 in: Biodiversity of Angola. Science and Conservation: A modern synthesis, ed. by Huntley, B.J., Russo. V., Lages, F. and Ferrand, N. Springer Open.
The history of cetacean research in Angolan waters is scant. Prior to the 2000s it primarily consisted of information from historical (1700s to the 1920s) and modern (1920s to 1970s) whaling catches, from which baleen whales and the sperm whale were confirmed. Very few species were added to Angola’s cetacean checklist between the whaling era and the 2000s. However, observations since 2003 have confirmed Angola as a range state for at least 28 species, comprising 7 baleen whales, 2 sperm whale species, at least 2 beaked whales and at least 17 delphinids. There is potential for approximately seven more species to be identified in the region based on their known worldwide distributions. Angola has one of the most diverse cetacean faunas in Africa, and indeed worldwide, due to its varied seabed topography and transitional ocean climate which supports both (sub)tropical species and those associated with the Benguela Current. While no cetacean species are truly endemic to Angola, the country is one of few confirmed range states for the Critically Endangered Atlantic humpback dolphin and the Benguela-endemic Heaviside’s dolphin. These species, together with endangered baleen whales and breeding populations of sperm and humpback whales, are highlighted as conservation priorities.