A group of scientists now considers a little-known dolphin that only lives along the Atlantic coasts of Western Africa to be among the continent’s most endangered mammals, a list that includes widely recognized species such as gorillas, African wild dogs, and black rhinos, according to WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) and the IUCN’s (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Cetacean Specialist Group.
The latest assessment of the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii) reveals a new and mostly depressing reality: the obscure and poorly studied dolphin is now considered to be in great peril across most of its coastal range and has been uplisted from “Vulnerable” to “Critically Endangered” on IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Species.
Growing up to 2.5 meters (more than 8 feet) in length, the Atlantic humpback dolphin is gray in color and has a characteristic hump just below its dorsal fin. These dolphins are shy, occur in small groups, and rarely venture more than a few kilometers from shore. They are highly susceptible to human activities in coastal waters, and threats include entanglement in fishing gear, offshore construction such as port development, and hunting for human consumption.
Photo: Ricardo Liberato/Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)