[MARMAM] New Publication: Using Drones to Study Distribution Patterns of Bottlenose Dolphins in a South Carolina Estuary

Nicole Principe - NOAA Affiliate nicole.principe at noaa.gov
Tue Nov 28 11:13:11 PST 2023


Dear MARMAM community,

On behalf of my co-authors, I am pleased to announce our recent publication
in *Drones, *titled "Using Unoccupied Aerial Systems (UASs) to Determine
the Distribution Patterns of Tamanend’s Bottlenose Dolphins (*Tursiops
erebennus*) across Varying Salinities in Charleston, South Carolina."

The paper is available in open-access at
https://www.mdpi.com/2504-446X/7/12/689

Principe, N.; McFee, W.; Levine, N.; Balmer, B.; Ballenger, J. Using
Unoccupied Aerial Systems (UASs) to Determine the Distribution Patterns of
Tamanend’s Bottlenose Dolphins (*Tursiops erebennus*) across Varying
Salinities in Charleston, South Carolina. *Drones* *2023*, *7*, 689.

Abstract:
The Charleston Estuarine System Stock (CESS) of Tamanend’s bottlenose
dolphins (Tursiops erebennus) exhibit long-term site fidelity to the
Charleston Harbor, and the Ashley, Cooper, and Wando Rivers in Charleston,
South Carolina, USA. In the Cooper River, dolphins have been irregularly
sighted in upper regions where salinity levels are below what is considered
preferred dolphin habitat. We conducted unoccupied aerial system (UAS)
surveys in high-salinity (>15 parts per thousand) and low-salinity (<15
parts per thousand) regions (n = 8 sites) of the Cooper River and
surrounding waters to assess dolphin distribution in terms
presence/absence, detection rate, abundance, and density. We also assessed
the influence of ecological factors (salinity, water temperature, season,
and prey availability) on dolphin distribution. Dolphins were detected at
five sites, with higher salinity and water temperature being significant
predictors of presence and abundance. Dolphins were detected year-round
across high-salinity sites, and were infrequently detected in low-salinity
sites during months with warmer water temperatures. The results from this
study contribute to the overall understanding of dolphin distribution
across various habitats within the Charleston Estuary System and the
potential drivers for their movement into low-salinity waters.

Best,
Nicole Principe
-- 
*Nicole Principe, MSc*
Marine Mammal Stranding Technician
Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network
NOAA National Ocean Service
331 Fort Johnson Road
Charleston, SC 29412
Cell: 815-210-8501
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