a1 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UR 227 ‘Biocomplexité des Ecosystèmes Récifaux’, Centre IRD de Montpellier, Montpellier, France
a2 Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UR 227 ‘Biocomplexité des Ecosystèmes Récifaux’, Centre IRD de Nouméa, Nouméa, New Caledonia
a3 Observatoire de l'Environnement en Nouvelle-Calédonie, Nouméa, New Caledonia
Observations of bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops spp. were made opportunistically between 1993 and 2009 in New Caledonian waters (eastern Coral Sea, south-western Pacific). Two morphotypes, defined from pigmentation patterns, were observed: morphotype-B individuals possessed a distinctive, extensive pale-grey blaze that indents the darker-grey dorsal cape towards the basis of the dorsal fin while morphotype-A individuals lacked it. Morphotype-A bottlenose dolphins occurred in pods of 2–10 individuals whereas pods of morphotype-B bottlenose dolphins comprised up to ~30 individuals. All morphotype-A bottlenose dolphin sightings were made in inshore waters, and all morphotype-B bottlenose dolphin sightings were made offshore. Wounds inflicted by large sharks, including the tiger shark, were documented for morphotype-A bottlenose dolphins. Leisure-boat traffic is likely to be the cause of additional injuries to bottlenose dolphins in the New Caledonian lagoon. Pigmentation patterns and correlated habitat preferences of morphotype-A and -B bottlenose dolphins were consistent with those of, respectively, T. aduncus and T. truncatus in the western Coral Sea and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean.
(Received July 24 2011)
(Accepted November 18 2011)
c1 Correspondence should be addressed to: P. Borsa, Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, UR 227 ‘Biocomplexité des Ecosystèmes Récifaux’, Centre IRD de Montpellier-PS2, 911 avenue Agropolis, 34032 Montpellier cx France email: firstname.lastname@example.org