Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 May 2017
Knowledge of growth patterns of an animal species is fundamental to understand their life history. This information is also used to help define population boundaries of threatened cetaceans, such as the Franciscana dolphin, Pontoporia blainvillei. A total of 108 Franciscana dolphins incidentally captured in artisanal fishing nets in estuarine and marine coastal waters of the northern part of the Franciscana Management Area IV (North FMA IV), Argentina, were studied. The objective of the present paper was to study age and growth parameters of Franciscanas from North FMA IV and to compare these parameters between estuarine and marine potential populations within this area. We used von Bertalanffy and Gompertz growth curves to model growth trajectories. The estimated asymptotic lengths demonstrated that Franciscana dolphins from this area were smaller (females: 136.3 cm and males, 122.1 cm) than southern FMA IV values previously published. They also showed the reverse sexual size dimorphism that is known across their range. However, the estimated asymptotic length was not statistically different between the estuarine and marine females within the study area. In spite of this, the fact that the northern forms of the FMA IV were smaller than the southern specimens supports the hypothesis of more than one population of the species within this management area. The North FMA IV has the highest reported mortality levels of Franciscana dolphins within the FMA IV; these results are relevant to the knowledge base of Franciscana dolphins in the region.