• Pilot whale (Globicephala sp.) off Angola, Africa

Whale and dolphin research in Angola and the Gulf of Guinea

Caroline has worked extensively in the waters located off Angola on the west coast of Africa (south-east Atlantic Ocean) since March 2004, and in the waters further north off Congo, Gabon and in the Gulf of Guinea. Little is known about the marine mammal species inhabiting this region, and until recently most information was based on historical catches of large whales. Angola has received increasing focus from offshore industry, and since 2003 some companies have implemented Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs) during geophysical seismic surveys off Angola. While MMOs are primarily onboard to mitigate against any potentially adverse impacts on marine fauna, the use of experienced biologists has also provided an invaluable opportunity to collect scientific data in this poorly studied region.

Caroline has collected many years of marine mammal data from seismic survey (and other) vessels operating in offshore Angolan and Gulf of Guinea waters, and has also carried out dedicated research into cetaceans in the coastal waters of Namibe Province in southern Angola (see Atlantic humpback dolphin research). Numerous scientific peer-reviewed papers have been published from those studies on the cetacean species and communities occurring in the region, together with papers on other fauna encountered during the survey work such as sea turtles, whale sharks and Mobula rays. Her PhD Thesis “Ecology and conservation of cetaceans in the waters between Angola and the Gulf of Guinea, with focus on the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii)” drew on early survey work in the region from 2004 to 2009, providing the first comprehensive study of the occurrence of cetaceans in Angolan waters, adding considerably to existing knowledge of cetaceans off Gabon and in the Gulf of Guinea, and providing the first detailed information on the abundance, ecology and habitat use of the Atlantic humpback dolphin for any study site.

Selected publications from Angola/Gulf of Guinea ecological research:

Cetacean community papers

Weir, C.R. (2019). 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. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-03083-4

Weir, C.R. and Pierce, G.J. (2012). A review of the human activities impacting cetaceans in the eastern tropical Atlantic. Mammal Review. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2907.2012.00222.x.

Weir, C.R., MacLeod, C.D. and Pierce, G.J. (2012). Habitat preferences and evidence for niche partitioning amongst cetaceans in the waters between Gabon and Angola, eastern tropical Atlantic. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 92: 1735–1749. doi:10.1017/S0025315412000148.

Weir, C.R. (2011). Distribution and seasonality of cetaceans in tropical waters between Angola and the Gulf of Guinea. African Journal of Marine Science, 33: 1–15.

Weir, C.R. (2011). Ecology and conservation of cetaceans in the waters between Angola and the Gulf of Guinea, with focus on the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii). PhD Thesis, University of Aberdeen, UK.

Weir, C.R. (2010). A review of cetacean occurrence in West African waters from the Gulf of Guinea to Angola. Mammal Review, 40: 2–39.

Weir, C.R. (2007). Occurrence and distribution of cetaceans off northern Angola, 2004/05. Journal of Cetacean Research and Management, 9: 225–239.

Individual cetacean species (see also Atlantic humpback dolphin)

Weir, C.R., Coles, P., Ferguson, A., May, D., Baines, M., Figueirdo, I., Reichelt, M., Goncalves, L., de Boer, M.N., Rose, B., Edwards, M., Travers, S., Ambler, M., Félix, H., Wall, D., Azhakesan, V.A.A., Betenbaugh, M., Fennelly, L., Haaland, S., Hak, G., Juul, T., Leslie, R.W., McNamara, B., Russell, N., Smith, J.A., Tabisola, H.M., Teixeira, A., Vermeulen, E., Vines, J. and Williams, A. (2014) Clymene dolphins (Stenella clymene) in the eastern tropical Atlantic: distribution, group size, and pigmentation pattern. Journal of Mammalogy, 95(6): 1289–1298. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1644/14-MAMM-A-115

Weir, C.R. and Nicolson, I. (2014). Depredation of a sport fishing tournament by rough-toothed dolphins (Steno bredanensis) off Angola. Aquatic Mammals, 40(3): 297–304. DOI 10.1578/AM.40.3.2014.297.

Figueiredo, I. and Weir, C.R. (2014). Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) off Angola: recent sightings and evaluation of whaling data. African Journal of Marine Science, 36:2: 269–278. DOI: 10.2989/1814232X.2014.928652

Weir, C.R., Collins, T., Cross, T., Gill, A., Elwen, S., Unwin, M. and Parnell, R.J. (2013). False killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) sightings in continental shelf habitat off Gabon and Côte d’Ivoire (Africa). Marine Biodiversity Records, 6, e65 doi:10.1017/S1755267213000389.

Weir, C.R., Goncalves, L. and May, D. (2013). New Gulf of Guinea (Africa) range state records for pygmy killer whale (Feresa attenuata) and Fraser’s dolphin (Lagenodelphis hosei). Marine Biodiversity Records, 6: e35. doi:10.1017/S1755267212001303.

Weir, C.R., Collins, T., Carvalho, I. and Rosenbaum, H.C. (2010). Killer whales (Orcinus orca) in Angolan and Gulf of Guinea waters, tropical West Africa. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 90: 1601–1611.

Weir, C.R., Debrah, J., Ofori-Danson, P.K., Pierpoint, C. and Van Waerebeek, K. (2008). Records of Fraser’s dolphin Lagenodelphis hosei Fraser 1956 from the Gulf of Guinea and Angola. African Journal of Marine Science, 30: 241–246.

Weir, C.R. (2006). Sightings of beaked whales (Cetacea: Ziphiidae) including first confirmed Cuvier's beaked whales Ziphius cavirostris from Angola. African Journal of Marine Science, 28: 173–175.

Weir, C.R. (2006). First confirmed records of Clymene dolphin, Stenella clymene (Gray, 1850), from Angola and Congo, South-east Atlantic Ocean. African Zoology, 41: 297–300.

Other marine fauna

Weir, C.R., Macena, B.C.L. and Notarbartolo di Sciara, G. (2012). Records of rays of the genus Mobula (Chondrichthyes: Myliobatiformes: Myliobatidae) from the waters between Gabon and Angola (eastern tropical Atlantic). Marine Biodiversity Records, 5: e26.

Weir, C.R. (2010). Sightings of whale sharks (Rhincodon typus Smith 1828) off Angola and Nigeria. Marine Biodiversity Records, 3: e50, 2010.

Weir, C.R., Ron, T., Morais, M. and Duarte, A.D.C. (2007) Nesting and pelagic distribution of marine turtles in Angola, West Africa, 2000–2006: occurrence, threats and conservation implications. Oryx, 41: 224–231.

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