Pre-print manuscript published on humpback whales in the Persian Gulf

three dorsals

Humpback whales off the coast of Oman (copyright Gianna Minton/ESO)

A pre-print manuscript is available collating and describing all the known records of humpback whales in the Persian Gulf.  The paper (see full link and abstract below), is the result of a collaborative effort between many researchers working in Iran and the rest of the region, and helps to clarify previously uncertain and/or anecdotal records that can now be properly cited in future literature and used to inform future cetacean research in the area.  Download the full paper by clicking on the link below:

Dakhteh, S. M. H., S. Ranjbar, M. Moazeni, N. Mohsenian, H. Delshab, H. Moshiri, S. M. B. Nabavi & K. Van Waerebeek (2017) Humpback whales of the Persian Gulf. bioRxiv, 13.

The humpback whale has long been considered a rare straggler into the Persian Gulf, however new evidence contradicts this concept. We here critically review published and new records for Megaptera novaeangliae occurrence in the Gulf for the period 1883-2017. Of eight authenticated records (6 specimens, 2 live-sightings), seven are contemporary cases while one is a mid-Holocene specimen from UAE. An additional four are possible but unsubstantiated reports. Four regional, current, range states are confirmed, i.e. Iran, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar. Four of the five newly reported cases are from Iran’s coastal waters. We conclude that the Persian Gulf is part of the habitual range of the Arabian Sea humpback whale population, and has been since at least the mid-Holocene. It is unknown whether frequent passage occurs through the Strait of Hormuz or whether whales are (semi)resident. The low abundance of this endangered population and frequent deleterious anthropogenic events, particularly ship strikes and net entanglements, are cause for major concern. In view of its historical and taxonomic relevance, the formal description of Megaptera indica Gervais, 1883, from Iraq, now thought to be a subspecies M. novaeangliae indica, is here translated from French.