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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*
Affiliation:
Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) and IrBIO, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, 08071 Barcelona, Spain
Jaume Forcada
Affiliation:
British Antarctic Survey, Natural Environment Research Council, Madingley Road, Cambridge CB3 0ET, UK
Esteve Grau
Affiliation:
Department of Animal Biology (Vertebrates) and IrBIO, Faculty of Biology, University of Barcelona, 08071 Barcelona, Spain
Alex Aguilar
Affiliation:
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: joan.gonzalvo@gmail.com

Abstract

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.

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

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