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Strong site-fidelity increases vulnerability of common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in a mass tourism destination in the western Mediterranean Sea

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 July 2013

Joan Gonzalvo*
Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) and IrBIO, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, 08071 Barcelona, Spain
Jaume Forcada
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
Esteve Grau
Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) and IrBIO, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, 08071 Barcelona, Spain
Alex Aguilar
Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) and IrBIO, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, 08071 Barcelona, Spain
Correspondence should be addressed to: J. Gonzalvo, Escorial, 43–45, 502a, 08024 Barcelona, Spain email:


The local population of common bottlenose dolphin in the Balearic Islands coastal waters, a mass tourism destination in the western Mediterranean subject to increasing anthropogenic pressures, was monitored over a three-year period. Photo-identification surveys provided a relatively small population estimate, even though the islands are considered to be a hotspot for the species in the Mediterranean. Dolphins showed strong site-fidelity and relatively limited mobility across the archipelago, which makes them highly dependent on waters which are severely affected by overfishing, habitat degradation and boat disturbance resulting from a continuously-growing tourism and shipping industry. Ecosystem-based management actions are urgently needed to ensure the conservation of this fragile population of bottlenose dolphins. Conservation measures should be developed within the already-existing political and legal marine biodiversity conservation framework and in collaboration with local authorities and stakeholders.

Research Article
Copyright © Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom 2013 

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