Pinnipeds or sirenians at western Indian Ocean Islands?
Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
Journal of Zoology
Volume 167, Issue 2, pages 207–217, June 1972
How to Cite
Stoddart, D. R. (1972), Pinnipeds or sirenians at western Indian Ocean Islands?. Journal of Zoology, 167: 207–217. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7998.1972.tb01730.x
- Issue published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Article first published online: 20 AUG 2009
- Accepted 14 December 1971
Records of pinnipeds and sirenians are rare in the western Indian Ocean away from continental coasts. In the case of pinnipeds there are apparently no records at all in this area, except for occasional stray Elephant seals Mirounga leonina as far north as Mauritius and Rodriguez, and a single record of an undetermined species in the southern Maldive Islands: the Indian Ocean now lacks any counterpart of the Monk seals of the Caribbean and the Pacific (King, 1956, 1964). In the case of sirenians, Dugongs are widely distributed round the continental coasts of the Indian Ocean, including Madagascar, the Comoros, and Ceylon, but there is much less information concerning them on more remote Indian Ocean islands. This paper draws attention to hitherto unnoticed reports of animals which could be either pinnipeds or sirenians made by 18th and early 19th century navigators, and reviews some of the published evidence for the existence of these animals in the 17th and 18th centuries in the Mascarene Islands. It is shown that many of the reef islands of the tropical western Indian Ocean were formerly inhabited by seals, of undetermined species and now extinct, and that some of the early references to Dugongs in fact concerned seals.