Effects of Boat Traffic on the Behaviour of Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Abstract: Boat traffic is widely believed to cause disturbance and physical injury to cetaceans and is frequently cited as an important threat to their welfare and conservation. As a result, numerous codes of practice have been proposed which restrict the movement of boats in the vicinity of cetaceans. There are, however, relatively few quantitative studies on the behaviour of cetaceans in the presence of boats. Here, we report on a study of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Teignmouth Bay, UK. We show that the presence of dolphins in the study area was unrelated to the number of boats present. When boats were stationary, the behaviour of dolphins did not differ significantly between boat classes; however, there was a highly significant difference in the response of dolphins to different classes of boats in motion. Speedboats and jet skis were associated with aversive behaviours, even when boats were not directly approaching the dolphins.

Key Words: bottlenose dolphin, disturbance, boat traffic, behaviour, conservation, Tursiops

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1578/AM.30.2.2004.279

Page Numbers: 279-283

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