E-FAS, vol. 18, no. 4, pp.411-416, December, 2015
DOI. http://dx.doi.org/10.5657/FAS.2015.0411

A New Abundance Estimate for the Finless Porpoise
Neophocaena asiaeorientalis on the West Coast of Korea:
An Indication of Population Decline

Kyum Joon Park*, Hawsun Sohn, Yong Rock An, Hyun Woo Kim and Doo Hae An

Cetacean Research Institute, National Institute of Fisheries Science, Ulsan 44780, Korea

The west coast of Korea is the largest habitat for finless porpoises, with approximately 36,000 individuals reported in 2005 (Park et al., 2007). To date, there have been no subsequent finless porpoise population estimates. However, in recent bycatches, finless porpoises accounted for the highest proportion of all cetaceans and have been reported to be most frequently caught on the west coast of Korea (Kim et al., 2013). The present study, conducted in 2011, enumerated finless porpoises inhabiting the west coast of Korea using a line transect survey in offshore and inshore regions to assess variations in their abundance. In offshore regions we found the population density of finless porpoises to be 0.122 ind./km2, whereas it was 0.565 ind./km2 in 2004. In inshore regions, the population density of finless porpoises was 0.151 ind./km2, whereas it was 0.638 ind./km2 in 2005. Therefore, we estimate that the population densities of finless porpoises in both offshore and inshore regions of the west coast of Korea decreased by approximately 70% between 2004/2005 and 2011. It is imperative to mitigate the bycatch of finless porpoises and protective action is urgently needed in the near inshore regions.

Keyword : Finless porpoise, Neophocaena asiaeorientalis, Abundance, West coast of Korea

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