Site Fidelity and Residency of Tursiops truncatus off the Aragua Coast, Venezuela-First Records of Long Residency

S. Cobarrubia-Russo (Laboratory of Ecosystems and Global Change, Ecology Centre, Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela)
I. Sawyer (Scottish Association for Marine Science, Oban, Argyll, PA37 1QA, Scotland, Britain)
M. Gómez-Alceste (Laboratory of Ecosystems and Global Change, Ecology Centre, Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC), Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela)
A. Molero-Lizarraga (Biological Diversity Unit, Venezuelan Institute for Scientific Research, Caracas 1020-A, Venezuela)

Abstract


This study represents the first comprehensive analysis of the residency patterns of a coastal population of bottlenose dolphin off the coast of Aragua, Venezuela, over a multi-year period. Using photo-identification, the most recent study (2019-2020) identified 56 individuals with the time between encounters from one to 344 days between the first and last sighting. Site Fidelity (SF) and Residence (RES) indices were calculated and Agglomerative Hierarchical Clustering (AHC) modeling was performed, with three patterns of residence obtained: resident (25%), semiresident (17.86%) and transient (57.14%). These results were contrasted with remodeled data from a previous study (2006-2007), showing similar patterns: resident (24.44%), semi-resident (28.89%) and transient (46.67%). Importantly, two individuals were found to have been resident over the extended period. A breeding female sighted for the first time in 2004 and again in 2020 (16 years) and the other from 2005 to 2020 (15 years). This region is an important area for marine mammals, known to support a resident reproductive population over many years, as well seabirds, sea turtles, whale sharks and fishermen. We recommend that consideration be given to designating the waters as a Marine Protected Area to safeguard the existing population and provide benefit to the surrounding marine environment.


Keywords


Bottlenose dolphin; Photo-identification; Residence patterns; Agglomerative hierarchical clustering; Venezuela South; Caribbean; Marine Protected Area (MPA) selection

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jms.v3i4.3811

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