[MARMAM] New publication on the effects of swim-with-dolphin tourism on the behavior, response, and group structure of structure of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins

Katharina Johanne Peters katharina.peters at flinders.edu.au
Wed May 1 23:43:47 PDT 2013

Dear MARMAM Subscribers,

Dear colleagues,
We are pleased to announce the recent publication of the following paper:
Peters, K. J., Parra, G. J., Skuza, P. P. and Möller, L. M. (2012), First insights into the effects of swim-with-dolphin tourism on the behavior, response, and group structure of southern Australian bottlenose dolphins. Marine Mammal Science. doi: 10.1111/mms.12003

Bottlenose dolphins are often targeted for cetacean tourism due to their coastal distribution and residency in some areas. However, the impacts of these activities on the animals involved are still poorly understood. This study provides a preliminary assessment of the impact of of swim-with-dolphin tourism on southern Australian bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops australis) inhabiting Adelaide coastal waters, in the Gulf of St. Vincent, South Australia. Behavioural observations and photo identification of bottlenose dolphins involved in interactions with swimmers were conducted from a tourist vessel between March and May 2010. We use first-order Markov chains and contingency tables to assess whether vessel approaches and the presence of swimmers in the water had an effect on the behaviour, direction of movement, and group cohesiveness of bottlenose dolphins before, during, and after impact. Our results indicate that bottlenose dolphins in Adelaide’s coastal waters change their behaviour significantly when they are exposed to swim-with-dolphin tourism activities. Behavioural transition probabilities of 72 groups observed before, during, and after impact indicated that traveling behaviour was disrupted by interactions with swimmers. The behavioral budget differed significantly between these three sampling stages. After the impact, feeding increased to levels higher than before the impact, while milling decreased compared to other stages, and travelling did not return to before impact levels. The direction of movement of the dolphins was also significantly affected by swimmer presence. Large groups were more likely to approach the swimmers rather than the boat while small groups were more likely to approach the boat and not the swimmers. Group cohesiveness was not significantly affected by the tourism activity. Future research aimed at assessing the behavioural budget of dolphins in the absence of the tourism vessel and swimmers will help to clarifyshort and long-term shifts in behaviour by comparing the dolphins’ behavioural budgets during impact and control situations.

It is available online for early view via the following link:

All the best
Katharina Peters

Katharina J. Peters
PhD Candidate|Bird Lab
Flinders University|School of Biological Sciences
Office 2303A, Physical Science Building | Sturt Road, Bedford Park 5042 SA, Adelaide
GPO Box 2100 Adelaide, SA 5001 Australia
t  +61 (0) 8 8201 7753|e katharina.peters at flinders.edu.au
w http://www.flinders.edu.au/people/katharina.peters
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