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A juvenile bottlenose dolphin plays with seagrass in the Indian River Lagoon. Credit: HSWRI 2017; A. Fabry 20170131 S150150; NOAA Fisheries permit no. 20377-01.
Using telemetry units in hospitals to monitor patient health is standard practice. Now, a similar approach is proving to be invaluable for dolphins, too. Researchers from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute, Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute and collaborators have conducted the most extensive radio-tracking effort of bottlenose dolphins in the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) using radio-telemetry.
Findings - Study - Information - Habitats - Time
Findings from their study reveal new and surprising information about how they use their habitats, how they spend their time, and how they interact with their own species.
A population of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) consider the IRL along the Atlantic Coast of Florida their "home sweet home." Yet, little is known about their short-term movements, association patterns, activities, and habitat use—factors that are critical to understanding and managing animal populations. Moreover, these long-lived, top-level predators are impacted by ecological changes following large-scale environmental shifts including seagrass loss, fish kills and algal blooms.
IRL - Dolphins - Photo-identification - Surveys - Evaluation
Although IRL bottlenose dolphins have routinely been monitored via photo-identification surveys, this method only provides an intermittent evaluation. Radio-telemetry—on the other hand—enabled the researchers to consistently observe, track and monitor the dolphins in close proximity over time.
The study, recently published in the journal Aquatic Mammals, emphasizes the value of radio-telemetry as an important method to evaluate seasonal ranging patterns and provides essential baseline data on habitat preferences.
Study - Greg - O'Corry-Crowe - PhD - Co-author
For the study, Greg O'Corry-Crowe, Ph.D., co-author and a research professor at FAU's Harbor Branch, Wendy Noke Durden, M.S., lead author and a research scientist at Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute, and collaborators, selected and fitted nine IRL bottlenose dolphins with radio tags in June 2007 and June 2010. Eight were male, one was female, and all of the animals were adult except for one juvenile.
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