Bottlenose dolphin, tursiops truncatus, swim speed, movement, residency, abundance, fishing interactions, mitigation, unusual mortality event, choctawhatchee bay, pensacola bay
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.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Conservation Biology; Ecology and Organismal Biology Track
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Dissertations, Academic -- Sciences; Sciences -- Dissertations, Academicy
Shippee, Steven, "Movements, fishery interactions, and unusual mortalities of bottlenose dolphins" (2014). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4763.