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Monk seal and hump-backed dolphin are threatened by fishing activities off coast of Mauritania
Date:1/21/2011

Catalan researchers have studied the marine trophic network in Mauritania, on the north west coast of Africa, which is an extremely heavily exploited fishing area, as well as being home to two of the world's most threatened species of marine mammal the monk seal and the Atlantic hump-backed dolphin. The results of the study show that industrial and traditional fishing activities along the coast are putting these mammals and local marine ecosystems at great danger.

The researchers studied the local marine trophic network off the north west coast of Africa, and by analysing stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes were able to verify the distribution and trophic position of 13 mammal species and also that of other species of macro seaweed, marine plants, fish, molluscs, turtles and phytoplankton, which had never been studied before.

The monk seal (Monachus monachus) and the Atlantic hump-backed dolphin (Sousa teuszii) are "the most coastal species of the whole area studied, and are the only ones occupying this marine ecosystem", Ana M. Pinela, lead author of the study and a researcher at the University of Barcelona (UB), tells SINC.

The Portuguese scientist says this area, which is so "extremely" over-exploited by both industrial and traditional fishing "should be a conservation priority for these species, which are important for biodiversity. If they disappear, it would be hard for others to take their place". This would cause a "serious" imbalance "at all levels" in local coastal ecosystems, which would remain without two super-predators that are "essential" for them to function properly.

The study, which has been published in Marine Ecology Progress Series, shows the importance of the predators Monachus monachus and Sousa teuszii for the proper functioning of coastal ecosystems in Mauritania.

The killer whale (Orcinus orca), which is also present in Mauritania, feeds at the same t
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Contact: SINC
info@plataformasinc.es
34-914-251-820
FECYT - Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology
Source:Eurekalert  

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