Bottlenose dolphins are the most common coastal dolphin species often inhabiting estuarine and marine waters close to human habitation. For this reason, they are probably the best known and most studied cetacean. And yet, there are so many things we still don't know about bottlenose dolphins.
Have you ever wondered what dolphins (or other cetaceans for that matter) do at night? Or perhaps, asked how might dolphin populations be impacted by climate change and environmental degradation? For example, can they mount effective immune responses to emerging pathogens?
These, and more, are the questions we are seeking answers to in our studies on bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon and adjacent Atlantic Ocean along Florida's east coast.
Currently, our collaborators and supporters include:
Tracking dolphins at night: Despite the countless studies on bottlenose dolphins around the world few have occurred between the hours of dusk and dawn. We used satellite telemetry to track the nocturnal habits of four bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's Atlantic coast. The results were both surprising and illuminating
All dolphins were quite active at night, and each dolphin had a unique pattern of movement and habitat use that suggest individual variation in foraging strategies. Significantly, all dolphins moved beyond the bounds of the lagoon system traveling into the adjoining ocean and up rivers and canals, some of which were incredibly narrow.
As well as providing a more complete picture of dolphin ecology this study will also help create more comprehensive risk assessments and thereby develop more effective management policies