New species of dolphin spotted in waters off Reunion Island

The appearance of a hitherto unrecorded species of dolphins in the waters off Reunion Island has served to reinforce the ongoing efforts by several marine research institutions to monitor the presence

New species of dolphin spotted in waters off Reunion Island

The appearance of a hitherto unrecorded species of dolphins in the waters off Reunion Island has served to reinforce the ongoing efforts by several marine research institutions to monitor the presence of species in this part of the Indian Ocean. The three parties involved in the just-ended surveillance trip, Globice, Kelonia, and Ecomar, have gathered data as far out as 17 miles from Reunion Island to get a better understanding of marine life for both economic and conservation purposes. Mission parameters are now being formulated to eventually expand the surveillance and monitoring trips to cover the entire 200-nautical-mile radius around Reunion Island which constitutes the exclusive economic zone around this French Indian Ocean territory.

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The just concluded survey also focused on bird life which helped to identify the important passage of migratory Wilson’s storm petrels (Oceanites oceanicus), locally called “puppets” because of their very fluttering flight. These small seabirds which migrate annually from the Antarctic continent from the subantarctic islands (Kerguelen and Crozet) migrate every year to the north of the Indian Ocean. According to Professor Matthieu Le Corre, Deputy Director of laboratory Ecomar, “these findings confirm the importance of the Reunion waters for the success of this migration.” Regarding cetaceans, besides observing the striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) on May 16, a rare encounter with a school of pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus) about 10 nautical miles off the coast of Saint-Philippe was also reported, only the third time over the past decade. The species, observed rarely in coastal surveys, appears more often seen by fishermen further off the coast of Reunion Island.

Meanwhile, the IRT has continued to work hand in hand with home airline, Air Austral, as yet another group of 11 French travel agents, arranged by SPVA in conjunction with local DMC Alizoa was welcomed to the island to discover for themselves the attractions the island holds for visitors and to become both ambassadors as well as a sales force for Reunion among their clientele. Click on www.reunion.fr for more information about the destination.

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