Photographic Capture-Recapture Analysis Reveals a Large Population of Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) With Low Site Fidelity off the North West Cape, Western Australia

Rebecca Haughey, Tim Hunt, Daniella Hanf, Robert William Rankin, Guido J. Parra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Little is known about the ecology of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) inhabiting the coastal waters of tropical north-western Australia. We used photo-identification data collected between 2013 and 2015, site fidelity indexes and capture-recapture models to estimate the abundance and site fidelity patterns of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (T. aduncus) inhabiting the coastal waters off the North West Cape (NWC), Western Australia. A standardized site fidelity index (SSFI) indicated low site fidelity (SSFI = 0.019) at the population level to the 130 km2 study area. Agglomerative hierarchical clustering (AHC) of individual re-sight rates classified 58% of individuals as “non-residents.” Open POPAN modeling estimated a super-population size of 311 (95% CI: 249–373) individuals over the study period. A maximum likelihood transient model which considers both resident and non-resident individuals in a population, estimated a resident population of 141 (95% CI: 121–161) individuals and a super-population of 370 (95% CI: 333–407) individuals. These models indicate that a large population of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins of relatively high density (an average of 2.4–2.8 bottlenose dolphins per km2) inhabits the waters off the NWC. The large number of both resident and non-resident bottlenose dolphins found throughout the coastal waters off the NWC suggest this area, as well as neighboring waters outside our study area, are of high importance to this species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number781
Number of pages14
JournalFrontiers in Marine Science
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 28 Jan 2020

Keywords

  • abundance
  • capture-recapture
  • Exmouth Gulf
  • Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins
  • Ningaloo Reef
  • site fidelity
  • Tursiops aduncus

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