Long-term site fidelity and residency patterns of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Tramandaí Estuary, southern Brazil
Keywords:Population size, Residence patterns
The occurrence of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Tramandaí Estuary, southern Brazil, is described based on a photo-identification study conducted between January 2009 and February 2010. A total of 128 survey days were conducted with an average observation effort of 2.6 hours per day (SD = 0.6). Approximately 2050 photographs were taken from a shore land location at the mouth of the estuary. A total of nine dolphins were identified, including three calves. The dolphins were observed during all seasons, with a greater frequency during fall (79.3% of the days) and winter (60.7% of the days). The summer presented the lowest occurrence (2.4% of the days) of dolphins. During the entire study period, the maximum number of individuals sighted in any given day ranged from one to seven (average = 2.8 dolphins; SD = 1.35; n = 51). The residence indices, based on the resighting frequency of dolphins during the study period, ranged from 0.02 to 0.24 (average = 0.13; SD = 0.08; n = 9). However, most of the animals (67%) were resighted in over five months during a year and could be classified as residents. Longterm site fidelity was detected by resightings of four dolphins for over 18 years. These data combined reinforce the importance of the Tramandaí Estuary for the common bottlenose dolphins in the region and highlight the need for local conservation efforts to guarantee the long-term persistence of these coastal populations.
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