Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (2015)

DOI: 10.1017/s0025315415001563


Cetaceans of Morocco have been poorly studied to date, and only sporadic information comes from scientific cruises for this group. In an attempt to learn more on the occurrence, distribution and relative abundances of cetaceans in Morocco, a stranding database was reconstructed from various sources (stranding reports from state agencies and newspaper clippings). This inventory documented 205 cases of stranding between 1980 and 2009. Most of the strandings and most confirmed cases of interactions with human activity (fishing, for dolphins; collisions, for whales) were reported in the Strait of Gibraltar and adjacent areas from the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Sixteen species were identified from the stranding database, of which seven species were the most abundant. These were striped dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, fin whales, sei whales, sperm whales and long-finned pilot whales. The fin and sei whales were present throughout the year and stranding of common and striped dolphins were minimal between September and December. The fin, sei and sperm whales seem to be present in Moroccan waters at birth and at different stages of their life cycle. Establishing an observation network of sufficient and sustainable density in Morocco is the most likely way to collect robust data for the calculation of credible population indicators for cetaceans. Monitoring will certainly improve through better collaboration among Moroccan institutions and a greater awareness in Moroccan civil society of environmental issues.