Keywords

Bottlenose dolphin, tursiops truncatus, swim speed, movement, residency, abundance, fishing interactions, mitigation, unusual mortality event, choctawhatchee bay, pensacola bay

Abstract

Bottlenose dolphins inhabiting coastlines and estuaries in Florida have been impacted in the past decade by development, algal blooms, catastrophic pollution, and fishery interactions (FI). Dolphins react to disturbance and environmental stressors by modifying their movements and habitat use, which may put them in jeopardy of conflict with humans. FI plays an increasing role in contributing to dolphin mortalities. I investigated dolphin movements, habitat use, residency patterns, and frequency of FI with sport fishing. Tagging studies with short-term data tags and bolt on radio-transmitters were done in several locations in Florida and the east coast providing fine-scale measurements of swimming, daily travels, and foraging activity. Transit speeds agreed with the predicted mean cost of transport as dolphins spent much of their day and night travelling and resting while swimming. Increased foraging was detected by stomach temperature changes revealing dolphins fed at night with a peak starting just after sunset. Dolphin abundance, site fidelity, ranging, stranding mortality, and community structure was characterized at Choctawhatchee and Pensacola Bays in the Florida Panhandle via surveying and photo-identification. Results showed they made frequent inshore movements, maintained site fidelity to specific areas, and comprised several distinct communities. FI was assessed at offshore reefs and coastal fishing piers near Destin, FL and Orange Beach, AL, showing that some dolphins demonstrate affinity to this activity. Harmful interactions with dolphins on reefs and at fishing piers negatively affect their resident communities. Mitigation of FI is suggested by use of avoidance strategies, gear modifications, and improved fish release practices.

Notes

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Graduation Date

2014

Semester

Spring

Advisor

Worthy, Graham

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

College

College of Sciences

Department

Biology

Degree Program

Conservation Biology; Ecology and Organismal Biology Track

Format

application/pdf

Identifier

CFE0005550

URL

http://purl.fcla.edu/fcla/etd/CFE0005550

Language

English

Release Date

November 2014

Length of Campus-only Access

None

Access Status

Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)

Subjects

Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academicy

Included in

Biology Commons

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