Density, abundance, survival, and ranging patterns of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Mississippi Sound following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Keith D. Mullin, Trent McDonald, Randall S. Wells, Brian C. Balmer, Todd Speakman, Carrie Sinclair, Eric S. Zolman, Fawn Hornsby, Shauna M. McBride, Krystan A. Wilkinson, Lori H. Schwacke, Cheryl S. Rosenfeld
2017 PLoS ONE  
After the Deepwater Horizon (DWH) oil spill began in April 2010, studies were initiated on northern Gulf of Mexico common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Mississippi Sound (MSS) to determine density, abundance, and survival, during and after the oil spill, and to compare these results to previous research in this region. Seasonal boat-based photo-identification surveys (2010-2012) were conducted in a section of MSS to estimate dolphin density and survival, and satellite-linked
more » ... try (2013) was used to determine ranging patterns. Telemetry suggested two different ranging patterns in MSS: (1) inshore waters with seasonal movements into mid-MSS, and (2) around the barrier islands exclusively. Based upon these data, dolphin density was estimated in two strata (Inshore and Island) using a spatially-explicit robust-design capture-recapture model. Inshore and Island density varied between 0.77-1.61 dolphins km −2 (" x = 1.42, 95% CI: 1.28-1.53) and 3.32-5.74 dolphins km −2 (" x = 4.43, 95% CI: 2.70-5.63), respectively. The estimated annual survival rate for dolphins with distinctive fins was very low in the year following the spill, 0.73 (95% CI: 0.67-0.78), and consistent with the occurrence of a large scale cetacean unusual mortality event that was in part attributed to the DWH oil spill. Fluctuations in density were not as large or seasonally consistent as previously reported. Total abundance for MSS extrapolated from density results ranged from 4,610 in
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0186265 pmid:29053728 pmcid:PMC5650146 fatcat:bfywunst5jd5lmk5d542dleoym