The occurrence and distribution of dolphins in Zanzibar, Tanzania, with comments on the differences between two species of tursiops
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Incidental catches (bycatch) in gillnet fisheries off Zanzibar (Unguja Island), as a source of mortality among several species of dolphins, were reported in a questionnaire survey conducted in 1999. As a follow-up to that survey, from January 2000 to August 2003, we monitored the incidental catches of dolphins collected from 12 fish landing sites. Six species of dolphins were recorded from 143 specimens retrieved from bycatches in drift- and bottom set gillnets. Of these, 68 (48%) were Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus), 44 (31%) spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris), 12 (8%) Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), 11 (8%) Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis), 6 (4%) Pan-tropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata) and 2 (1%) common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). Most of the bycatches (71%) were in nets set off the north coast of Unguja Island. In this paper, bycatch records are examined to describe the occurrence and distribution of dolphin species in Unguja Island coastal waters. The relatively large numbers of bycatch dolphins recorded indicate that bycatch may be a potential threat to local populations that need to be addressed in future conservation and management efforts in the region.