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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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South Africa’s new (orange) marine protected areas (MPA) (previously established MPAs yellow) increase the protection of the marine ecosystem, including nine odontocete species. Image & photo: Jean Purdon

Purdon J, Shabangu F, Pienaar M, Somers MJ, Findlay KP


South Africa’s newly approved marine protected areas have increased the protected modelled habitat of nine odontocete species


South Africa’s plan to unlock the economic potential of the ocean under program Operation Phakisa raises concerns for marine ecosystems. Therefore, an additional network of marine protected areas (MPAs) now complements the established coastal MPA network, increasing protection in more offshore waters, and increasing the variety of protected habitat types. Purdon and co-authors show that habitat preference of nine odontocete species (southern bottlenose whale, common dolphin, dusky dolphin, false killer whale, Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin, Heaviside’s dolphin, killer whale, Risso’s dolphin, and Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin) can be determined by ensemble modelling. With the addition of the new MPAs resultant models indicate that the percentage of protected habitat increases between 0.3% and 26% for these odontocete species. Such model information can help to identify important marine mammal areas, aiding future marine spatial planning.


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