Madagascar is not especially rich in marine mammals, but it is a renowned place to see Humpback Whale, and dolphins are sometimes sighted.
DISTRIBUTION: Found in oceans almost worldwide. One population that spends the summer in cold Antarctic waters migrates thousands of kilometres every year. visiting the Madagascar coast to breed and calve during the austral winter, from May to December. The Bay of Antongil is used in July and August as a major breeding and calving site.
ID: A huge marine mammal with a humped back, short stubby dorsal fin and distinctive long flippers that are mostly white. Sightings of other whales are rare in Malagasy waters.
VOICE: Renowned for its complex, ever-changing undersea song. BEHAVIOUR: One of the most demonstrative whales due to its frequent breaching, tail and flipper slapping, and bubble-feeding behaviours. Feeds on krill and small fish. The female gives birth to a single calf
WHERE TO SEE: Possible anywhere around the coast, especially to the east between May and December. St. Marie Island hosts a large whale- watching industry, with July to September being the best time. The Bay of Antongil (bounded by the Masoala Peninsula)
is less developed for whale- watching, but sightings are also dependable there.
Common / Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin
DISTRIBUTION: Found in warm and temperate oceans worldwide. Occurs all around Madagascar’s coast. These two species were recently split, and the identity of the dolphins in Malagasy waters remains to be determined.
ID: A large, chunky, generally uniformly greyish dolphin with a sturdy, bottle-like beak. This classic, familiar species accounts for the vast majority of dolphin sightings
around Madagascar. Spinner Dolphin Stenella longirostris (not illustrated) is occasionally seen, usually far offshore; it averages smaller and slimmer, with a much longer beak; and often spins when it leaps out of the water.
VOICE: Uses clicks to echolocate prey.
BEHAVIOUR: A social animal that lives in pods, normally containing up to 15 individuals, but sometimes comprising hundreds. Active and playful, and makes spectacular leaps out of the water. Feeds mainly on fish, krill, and squid. Females give birth to a single calf.
WHERE TO SEE: Possible anywhere around the coast, but most frequently seen in the Nosy Be area
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