Pacific Conservation Biology Pacific Conservation Biology Society
A journal dedicated to conservation and wildlife management in the Pacific region.
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Cetacean diversity, common occurrence and community importance in Fijian waters

Cara Miller A G , Aisake Batibasaga B , Prerna Chand C , Sirilo Dulunaqio D , Margaret Fox D , Stacy Jupiter D E , Waisea Naisilisili D , Yashika Nand D , Saras Sharma-Gounder B and Brian Smith F
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Pacific Islands Program, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Suva, Fiji. Present address: School of Biological and Chemical Sciences, Faculty of Science, Technology and the Environment, University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

B Fiji Fisheries Department, Ministry of Primary Industries, Fiji Government.

C Graduate School of Science and Technology, Kanazawa University, Japan.

D Wildlife Conservation Society, Fiji Country Program, Suva, Fiji.

E Wildlife Conservation Society, Melanesia Program, Fiji.

F Wildlife Conservation Society, Asian Freshwater and Coastal Cetaceans Program, Bronx, USA.

G Corresponding author. Email: cara.miller@usp.ac.fj

Pacific Conservation Biology 22(3) 272-280 https://doi.org/10.1071/PC14933
Submitted: 20 November 2015  Accepted: 4 April 2016   Published: 7 June 2016

Abstract

Fiji has demonstrated a strong commitment to cetacean conservation via national, regional and international plans and agreements. To provide baseline information in support of these efforts, this paper provides an updated listing of cetacean species found in Fijian waters and identifies locations where cetaceans have been noted on a consistent basis. Information for this review was sourced from peer-reviewed publications, field reports, historical whaling records, national consultations, anecdotal and opportunistic sources, as well as a national database held by the Fiji Government’s Department of Fisheries. Reliable and recent records were confirmed for 10 cetacean species in Fijian waters. In addition, less reliable records and regional species’ information provides support for the occurrence of at least 14 additional species or groups of similar-looking species that could not be identified more specifically. Thirteen hotspot areas within the Fiji Economic Exclusive Zone were preliminarily identified as being particularly important for cetaceans, including numerous sites within the Vatu-i-Ra and Lomaiviti passages and surrounding waters. Issues with the available data include uneven coverage, inherent biases within available sources, and difficulties with species identification and verification in some cases. Nevertheless, it is hoped that this review will provide a reference point from which to move forward with cetacean management and conservation efforts in Fiji.

Additional keywords: cetaceans, Fiji, Pacific Regional Whale and Dolphin Action Plan, SPREP, Convention of Migratory Species.


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