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Marine Mammals of Tanzania and Zanzibar

August 4, 2022

Marine Mammals of Tanzania and Zanzibar

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Tim Davenport Tim Davenport

Did you know that 26 different species of whale and dolphin are found in Tanzanian waters? And 28 species of marine mammal? You are not alone, if not. Good conservation needs a strong emphasis on reliable evidence and thus ground-breaking research. Moreover, communicating scientific findings effectively to the wide array of people involved in conservation – from community members and local leaders to policymakers and international donors – is crucial. We recently published a new book “The Marine Mammals of Tanzania and Zanzibar – an Illustrated Guide and Natural History” by Tim Davenport, illustrated by the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Sarah Markes. It is the first of its kind specifically targeting the United Republic of Tanzania.

The book was conceived in 2013 during the writing of A Guide to the Large Mammals of Tanzania” when we identified 18 species of marine mammal in Tanzanian waters. Since then, there have been taxonomic and conservation status changes. WCS carried out a six-week cetacean survey in 2015, and over the last five years, more research has been accomplished, and we added new records. While the book features 28 species, it is likely that the list will grow with further study. In addition to the whales and dolphins, there is the dugong and one-eared seal, although the latter is a vagrant (i.e. very rarely seen as Tanzania is far outside its normal range.)

Each species entry provides taxonomy, a description with maximum adult weights and lengths, habitat preference, distribution, the primary diet, the latest IUCN Red of Threatened Species listing, behavior, and information pertinent to Tanzania. There are also large sections on marine mammal natural history and conservation, as well as the key elements of carbon capture and sustainable whale/dolphin tourism.

We hope the book inspires Tanzanians and non-Tanzanians alike to enjoy, appreciate, and help care for the nation’s seas and seascapes, and the extraordinary wildlife within them. Thanks to the generosity of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the book is available free of charge to education and government institutions in Tanzania, as well as communities, tourist guides, and relevant NGOs. To request a copy please contact kipunji@gmail.com.

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