The Atlantic Humpback Dolphin (Sousa teuszii) lives around the Western coastline of Africa, but scientists now fear that it might just be one of the continent’s rarest mammals; even more-so than certain types of gorillas and rhinos.
Image Credit: Pixabay
While the International Union for the Conservation of Nature originally listed the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin on the Red List as a “vulnerable” species, they’ve since up-listed it to “critically-endangered” following a new assessment to discern just how many remain in the wild today.
While the scientists hoped to see an improvement, they were instead miserably disappointed with the results.
“Our recent assessment suggests that the global population of the Atlantic humpback dolphin likely numbers fewer than 1,500 breeding adults distributed among several isolated sub-populations, most of which appear to be very small,” said Tim Collins, of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program and the Africa Coordinator of the IUCN’s Cetacean Specialist Group.
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As it would seem, the situation looks direr for the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin than initially thought. The cetaceans are shy creatures by nature, so they don’t explore and find new mates to mingle with as often as conservationists would like. Furthermore, issues like bycatch in fisheries and hunting continue to drive their numbers even lower.
So how can we fix the problem? Well, that’s the million-dollar question; and it’s tricky.
We’d need to implement conservation efforts as quickly as possible to ensure that the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin stands a chance against the things that threaten its very existence. Fortunately, its escalated Red List status means that conservationists could obtain the additional resources necessary to make wildlife management more effective.
“The new Critically Endangered listing will hopefully provide greater attention and resources to mitigate primary and cumulative threats faced by the Atlantic humpback dolphin, as well as proactive strategies for protecting the species and its vital habitats in key parts of the range,” said Howard Rosenbaum, Director of WCS’s Ocean Giants Program and member of the IUCN Species Survival Commission’s Cetacean Specialist Group.
Related: Scientists find a new species of dolphin in Ecuador
A bevy of cetaceans around the globe face population crises because of how humans harvest our oceans and fail to take care of the environment. On the other hand, spreading awareness can help change that.
It should be interesting to see how researchers might save the Atlantic Humpback Dolphin from getting any closer to extinction, assuming that’s even still possible.