a1 The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI), Via Díaz 4, Golfo Aranci 07020, Italy
a2 CEMMA, Apartado 15, 36380 Gondomar, Spain
Solitary wild bottlenose dolphins and man frequenting the same small areas makes boat interaction more or less inevitable. Here we provide the first quantified data about solitary bottlenose dolphin diving behaviour in the presence and absence of boats. Over 110 hours were spent observing a solitary bottlenose dolphin within a 6 km2 bay on the north-western coast of Spain from April to August 2005. A generalized linear mixed model explaining 77.3% of the variability of duration of dives indicated that the animal did not vary its diving activity in function of the presence of boats. However, the length of dives was related with the behavioural events prior to dive. Dolphin activity was characterized by mean dive intervals (mean = 62.6 seconds) related to a predominance of foraging behaviour. Because of the frequent presence of boats and the manner in which they moved, the dolphin may have become accustomed to their presence. The data reported here could be used to implement precautionary management proposals that take into account the potential effects of boat presence on bottlenose dolphins.
(Received July 21 2007)
(Accepted December 05 2007)
(Online publication March 25 2008)