Rev. biol. mar. oceanogr. 47(3): 537-551



The composition of the cetacean community in the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands, southwest South Atlantic Ocean

Helen Otley1

1Environmental Planning Department, Falkland Islands Government, Stanley, Falkland Islands, FIQ 1ZZ, United Kingdom
*Currently West Coast Tai Poutini Conservancy, Department of Conservation, Hokitika 7810, New Zealand

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An evaluation of the stranding record for the period 1866 to September 2012 confirms that the Falkland (Malvinas) Islands cetacean community is composed of 7 species of baleen whale, 7 beaked whale species, sperm whale, 8 species of dolphin and 1 of porpoise. The stranding record supports the species composition based on at-sea surveys, but also confirms the presence of some rare, vessel-shy and/or offshore and deepwater species. Five species - long-finned pilot whale, Peale’s dolphin, Commerson’s dolphin, hourglass dolphin and sperm whale - are considered to have a regular presence in the Islands. Six species are considered infrequent, 11 are considered rare and 2 species had a historic presence but have not been recorded in recent years. The stranding record suggests potential temporal changes for some of these species, reflecting perhaps a recovery of their population from over-exploitation and/or changes in oceanographic conditions and/or prey availability.

Key words:  Whale, dolphin, strandings, South America, subantarctic waters