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Brunswick, GA, United States

Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Balmer B.C.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Schwacke L.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | And 9 more authors.
Marine Mammal Science | Year: 2013

The health of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) within southern Georgia estuaries is of particular concern due to high levels of anthropogenic contaminants in their tissues. Dolphins in this region have the highest polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations recorded for any marine mammal and these concentrations correlate to distance from a Superfund point-source in the Turtle/Brunswick River Estuary (TBRE). Currently, little is known about the population structure of dolphins in this region. This study identifies and compares baseline data on abundance, habitat use, site-fidelity, and ranging patterns of dolphins across two adjacent field sites; Brunswick, including the TBRE, and Sapelo, including the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. Sapelo is relatively undeveloped and was selected for comparison to the more contaminated TBRE. Dolphin densities increased with tributary size in both sites but dolphin density and total abundance were significantly higher in Sapelo than in Brunswick. Anthropogenic stressors within the TBRE may be an important factor contributing to the differences in abundance, density, and habitat use observed in this study. © 2012 by the Society for Marine Mammalogy.

Balmer B.C.,University of North Carolina at Wilmington | Balmer B.C.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | Schwacke L.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Wells R.S.,C o Mote Marine Laboratory | And 12 more authors.
Science of the Total Environment | Year: 2011

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are apex predators in coastal southeastern U.S. waters; as such they are indicators of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) in coastal ecosystems. POP concentrations measured in a dolphin's blubber are influenced by a number of factors, including the animal's sex and ranging pattern in relation to POP point sources. This study examined POP concentrations measured in bottlenose dolphin blubber samples (n = 102) from the Georgia, USA coast in relation to individual ranging patterns and specifically, distance of sightings from a polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) point source near Brunswick, Georgia. Dolphin ranging patterns were determined based upon 5. years of photo-identification data from two field sites approximately 40. km apart: (1) the Brunswick field site, which included the Turtle/Brunswick River Estuary (TBRE), and (2) the Sapelo field site, which included the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve (SINERR). Dolphins were categorized into one of three ranging patterns from photo-identification data. Individuals with sighting histories exclusively within one of the defined field sites were considered to have either Brunswick or Sapelo ranging patterns. Individuals sighted in both field sites were classified as having a Mixed ranging pattern. Brunswick males had the highest concentrations of PCBs reported for any marine mammal. The pattern of PCB congeners was consistent with Aroclor 1268, a highly chlorinated PCB mixture associated with a Superfund site in Brunswick. PCB levels in Sapelo males were lower than in Brunswick males, but comparable to the highest levels measured in other dolphin populations along the southeastern U.S. Female dolphins had higher Aroclor 1268 proportions than males, suggesting that the highly chlorinated congeners associated with Aroclor 1268 may not be offloaded through parturition and lactation, as easily as less halogenated POPs. Individuals sighted farther from the Superfund point source had lower Aroclor 1268 proportions. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.

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