Oral Presentation- Symposium 12th International Mammalogical Congress

Atypical residency of short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) to a shallow, urbanised bay in south-eastern Australia (#16)

Suzanne Mason 1 2 , Chandra Salgado Kent 2 , David Donnelly 1 , Jeffrey Weir 1 , Kerstin Bilgmann 3
  1. Dolphin Research Institute, Hastings, Victoria, Australia
  2. Centre of Marine Science and Technology , Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
  3. Department of Biological Science, Macquarie University, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) are typically considered highly mobile, offshore delphinids. This study assessed the residency of a small community of short-beaked common dolphins in the shallow, urbanised Port Phillip Bay, south-eastern Australia. The ability to identify common dolphins by their dorsal fin markings and coloration using photo-identification was also investigated. Systematic and non-systematic boat surveys were undertaken between 2007 and 2014. Results showed that 13 adult common dolphins and their offspring inhabit Port Phillip Bay, of which 10 adults exhibit residency to the bay. The majority of these adults are reproductively active females, suggesting that female philopatry may occur in the community. Systematic surveys conducted between 2012 and 2014 revealed that the dolphins were found in a median water depth of 16 m and median distance of 2.2 km from the coast. The shallow, urbanised habitat of this resident common dolphin community is atypical for this species. As a result, these common dolphins face threats usually associated with inshore bottlenose dolphin communities. We suggest that the Port Phillip Bay common dolphin community is considered and managed separate to those outside the embayment and offshore to ensure the community’s long-term viability and residency in the bay.