Linear Transect Surveys of Abundance and Density of Cetaceans in The Area Near the Dzharylgach Island in the North-Western Black Sea

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Abstract

The first assessment of cetacean density and abundance by linear transect survey was conducted in 2016 and 2017 in the shallowest coastal area of the Ukrainian sector of the north-western Black Sea, in the Dzharylgach Gulf and the northern Karkinit Gulf, total area up to 259 km2. Three cetacean species were found present in the area in summer, and the harbour porpoise was the most abundant species with the abundance of at least a few hundred animals (estimated as 175 individuals in the Dzharylgach Gulf), whereas the common dolphins (59) and bottlenose dolphins (31) were present in lesser numbers. Common and bottlenose dolphins showed the clearest patterns of habitat preferences, being restricted respectively to the Dzharylgach and the northern Karkinit Gulf; an unusual trait is the preference of the shallowest habitat by common dolphins. Recorded density of harbour porpoises in the Dzharylgach Gulf is among the highest in the whole Black Sea. Thus, the studied area may be an important summer habitat for cetaceans.

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