Site fidelity, residency, and abundance of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in Adelaide's coastal waters, South Australia

Nikki Zanardo, Guido Parra, Luciana Moller

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    39 Citations (Scopus)


    Little is known about the ecology and behavior of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops sp.). This hinders assessment of their conservation status and informed decision-making concerning their management. We used boat-based surveys and photo-identification data to investigate site fidelity, residency patterns, and the abundance of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins in Adelaide's coastal waters. Sighting rates and site fidelity varied amongst individuals, and agglomerative hierarchical cluster analysis led to the categorization of individuals into one of three groups: occasional visitors, seasonal residents, or year-round residents. Lagged identification rates indicated that these dolphins used the study area regularly from year to year following a model of emigration and reimmigration. Abundance estimates obtained from multisample closed capture-recapture models ranged from 95 individuals (SE ± 45.20) in winter 2013 to 239 (SE ± 54.91) in summer 2014. The varying levels of site fidelity and residency, and the relatively high number of dolphins found throughout the study area highlights the Adelaide metropolitan coast as an important habitat for bottlenose dolphins. As these dolphins also appear to spend considerable time outside the study area, future research, conservation, and management efforts on this population must take into account anthropogenic activities within Adelaide's coastal waters and their adjacencies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1381-1401
    Number of pages21
    JournalMarine Mammal Science
    Issue number4
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


    • agglomerative hierarchical clustering
    • anthropogenic impacts
    • bottlenose dolphin
    • capture-recapture
    • closed population model
    • Gulf St Vincent
    • metropolitan coast
    • photo-identification
    • population size


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