Abundance and Summer Distribution of a Local Stock of Black Sea Bottlenose Dolphins, Tursiops truncatus (Cetacea, Delphinidae), in Coastal Waters near Sudak (Ukraine, Crimea)

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Abstract

The first assessment of abundance of a local population of bottlenose dolphins in the Black Sea (near the Sudak coast) in 2011–2012 has been conducted: the results of a mark-recapture study of photo identified animals were complemented by a vessel line transect survey. The overall abundance of a population was estimated at between 621 ± 198 and 715 ± 267 animals (Chapman and Petersen estimates), and the majority of members of the population were recorded in the surveyed area. The summer range covered the area of a few hundred square kilometers, similar to migrating coastal stocks in other world regions. The greatest density of distribution was observed in August in sea 45–60 m deep; in addition, frequent approaches to the coastline are usual for dolphins of this stock. These trends in distribution may be partly explained by distribution of prey. Interaction with sprat trawling fisheries can be a factor shaping the local population structure. Coastal waters of Sudak and adjoining sea areas are an important habitat for bottlenose dolphins in the northern Black Sea, significant for their conservation.

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Vestnik Zoologii

The Journal of National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, Schmalhauzen Institute of Zoology

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