The Namibian Dolphin Project | The aim of our research

Our Mission

The aim of our research, curiosity and concern

The best scientific research can answer ‘abstract’ questions of interest to specialist scientists and also have wide ranging applications in the real world. We aspire to both these ends of the spectrum.

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Our research is focussed on coastal delphinids in Namibia, mainly the bottlenose dolphin population which uses Walvis Bay and the Heaviside’s dolphins which are endemic to the Benguela ecosystem. However, there is so little known about the marine environment, especially in Namibia that we collect data on many different aspects of the environment while we’re out there, including whales, sunfish,  jellyfish and sharks, to share with other researchers working more directly on these species. We have described the first occurrence of the dwarf sperm whale in Namibian waters, only the second record of a Bryde’s whale from the offshore population, investigated the occurrence of leatherback turtles in Walvis Bay and increasing sightings of an invasive and potentially deadly jellyfish (Chirodropus gorilla).

It has been a goal of the NDP since its inception to share our findings as widely as possible. To this end we have given talks to the public, to the University, to the Minister of the Fisheries, in South Africa and the UK and we continue to work with the Marine Tourism Association of Namibia to increase their awareness of their own potential impacts on the animals on which their businesses depend.

We welcome collaboration and have a growing set of data with which we aim to answer multiple questions about the biology and ecological interactions of whales and dolphins in Namibia and use this data to help manage threats to these animals.  Our work has identified a concerning decrease in the number of bottlenose dolphins using Walvis Bay. By studying their behavior and space use we have identified core areas which are used for resting and feeding. Working together with the marine tourism industry, we have delineated a no-go zone around this resting area in which tour boats will leave dolphins alone. Although too early to tell we hope this respite will benefit the dolphin population.