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Hoorn, Netherlands

Oudejans M.G.,Dulra Research | Oudejans M.G.,Kelp Marine Research | Visser F.,Kelp Marine Research | Visser F.,Leiden University | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2015

Bottlenose dolphin stock structure in the northeast Atlantic remains poorly understood. However, fine scale photo-id data have shown that populations can comprise multiple overlapping social communities. These social communities form structural elements of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncates) populations, reflecting specific ecological and behavioural adaptations to local habitats. We investigated the social structure of bottlenose dolphins in the waters of northwest Ireland and present evidence for distinct inshore and offshore social communities. Individuals of the inshore community had a coastal distribution restricted to waters within 3 km from shore. These animals exhibited a cohesive, fissionfusion social organisation, with repeated resightings within the research area, within a larger coastal home range. The offshore community comprised one or more distinct groups, found significantly further offshore (>4 km) than the inshore animals. In addition, dorsal fin scarring patterns differed significantly between inshore and offshore communities with individuals of the offshore community having more distinctly marked dorsal fins. Specifically, almost half of the individuals in the offshore community (48%) had characteristic stereotyped damage to the tip of the dorsal fin, rarely recorded in the inshore community (7%). We propose that this characteristic is likely due to interactions with pelagic fisheries. Social segregation and scarring differences found here indicate that the distinct communities are likely to be spatially and behaviourally segregated. Together with recent genetic evidence of distinct offshore and coastal population structures, this provides evidence for bottlenose dolphin inshore/ offshore community differentiation in the northeast Atlantic. We recommend that social communities should be considered as fundamental units for the management and conservation of bottlenose dolphins and their habitat specialisations. © 2015 Oudejans et al. Source

Cure C.,University of St. Andrews | Antunes R.,University of St. Andrews | Samarra F.,University of St. Andrews | Alves A.C.,University of St. Andrews | And 4 more authors.
PLoS ONE | Year: 2012

In cetaceans' communities, interactions between individuals of different species are often observed in the wild. Yet, due to methodological and technical challenges very little is known about the mediation of these interactions and their effect on cetaceans' behavior. Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are a highly vocal species and can be both food competitors and potential predators of many other cetaceans. Thus, the interception of their vocalizations by unintended cetacean receivers may be particularly important in mediating interspecific interactions. To address this hypothesis, we conducted playbacks of killer whale vocalizations recorded during herring-feeding activity to free-ranging long-finned pilot whales (Globicephala melas). Using a multi-sensor tag, we were able to track the whales and to monitor changes of their movements and social behavior in response to the playbacks. We demonstrated that the playback of killer whale sounds to pilot whales induced a clear increase in group size and a strong attraction of the animals towards the sound source. These findings provide the first experimental evidence that the interception of heterospecific vocalizations can mediate interactions between different cetacean species in previously unrecognized ways. © 2012 Curé et al. Source

Anderwald P.,University College Cork | Haberlin M.D.,University College Cork | Coleman M.,University College Cork | Ocadhla O.,Siar Environment | And 4 more authors.
Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom | Year: 2012

Long-term monitoring programmes of a comparatively small area complement larger scale, but temporally limited surveys and can provide extensive datasets on seasonal occurrence and fine-scale habitat use of multiple species. A marine mammal monitoring programme, involving year-round, land-based observations, has been conducted in Broadhaven Bay candidate Special Area of Conservation, north-west Ireland, during 2002, 2005 and 2008-2011. Nine cetacean and two seal species have been recorded, with grey seal, harbour porpoise, common and bottlenose dolphins, and minke whale present throughout the year. Generalized additive models, taking into account observer effort, sighting conditions (sea state) and interannual variation, did not reveal any significant seasonal patterns in the occurrence of grey seals, bottlenose dolphins and minke whales. On the other hand, common dolphin presence in Broadhaven Bay was highest during autumn and winter. Bottlenose dolphins could be separated spatially from both common dolphins and minke whales in a classification tree by their preferential use of the shallower inshore areas of the bay (<30 m depth). However, common dolphins and minke whales, which occurred mainly in the deeper outer section of Broadhaven Bay, could not be spatially distinguished from each other, and grey seals were distributed over the entire bay. Broadhaven Bay represents an important marine mammal habitat with respect to overall species diversity and the regular occurrence of bottlenose dolphin, harbour porpoise, grey and harbour seals (all listed under Annex II of the EU Habitats Directive). © 2012 Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom. Source

Visser F.,University of Amsterdam | Visser F.,Kelp Marine Research | Hartman K.L.,Nova Atlantis Foundation | Hartman K.L.,University of The Azores | And 4 more authors.
Marine Ecology Progress Series | Year: 2011

Each year, a phytoplankton spring bloom starts just north of the North Atlantic Subtropical Gyre, and then expands northwards across the entire North Atlantic. Here, we investigate whether the timing of the spring migration of baleen whales is related to the timing of the phytoplankton spring bloom, using 4 yr of dedicated whale observations at the Azores in combination with satellite data on ocean chlorophyll concentration. Peak abundances of blue whale Balaenoptera musculus, fin whale B. physalus, humpback whale Megaptera novaeangliae and sei whale B. borealis were recorded in April-May. The timing of their presence tracked the onset of the spring bloom with mean time lags of 13, 15, 15 and 16 wk, respectively, and was more strongly related to the onset of the spring bloom than to the actual time of year. Baleen whales were actively feeding on northern krill Meganyctiphanes norvegica in the area, and some photo-identified individuals stayed in Azorean waters for at least 17 d. Baleen whales were not observed in this area in autumn, during their southward migration, consistent with low chlorophyll concentrations during summer and autumn. Our results support the hypothesis that baleen whales track the secondary production generated by the North Atlantic spring bloom, utilizing mid-latitude areas such as the Azores as foraging areas en route towards their summer feeding grounds. © 2011 Inter-Research. Source

Anderwald P.,University College Cork | Brandecker A.,University College Cork | Coleman M.,University College Cork | Collins C.,University College Cork | And 7 more authors.
Endangered Species Research | Year: 2013

Marine construction works often lead to temporary increases in vessel traffic, which, in addition to the construction activity itself, contribute to underwater ambient noise in the affected area and increase the risk of vessel collision for marine mammals. Using a 3 yr data set of cliff-based observations, we investigated whether the presence/absence of minke whales, bottlenose dolphins and grey seals varied with the overall number and type of vessels present during the construction of an underwater gas pipeline through a bay on the northwest coast of Ireland. Results from binary generalised estimation equations showed a positive relationship between the presence of bottlenose dolphins and the overall number of boats, as well as the number of construction vessels. However, the presence of the 2 taxa with higher hearing sensitivity at low frequencies- minke whales and grey seals-was negatively correlated with the total number of boats and the number of utility vessels (as well as the number of fishing boats in the case of minke whales). While bottlenose dolphins may have been attracted to either the vessels per se or high prey concentrations coinciding with construction activities, both minke whales and grey seals appear to have been displaced by high levels of vessel traffic, most likely due to noise disturbance. Careful consideration of mitigation measures, especially for taxa with low-frequency hearing, is therefore essential in the planning phase of offshore construction activities, which should also take local circumstances into account. © Inter-Research 2013. Source

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