Strong site-fidelity increases vulnerability of common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in a mass tourism destination in the western Mediterranean Sea
The local population of common bottlenose dolphin in the Balearic Islands coastal waters, a mass tourism destination in the western Mediterranean subject to increasing anthropogenic pressures, was monitored over a three-year period. Photo-identification surveys provided a relatively small population estimate, even though the islands are considered to be a hotspot for the species in the Mediterranean. Dolphins showed strong site-fidelity and relatively limited mobility across the archipelago, which makes them highly dependent on waters which are severely affected by overfishing, habitat degradation and boat disturbance resulting from a continuously-growing tourism and shipping industry. Ecosystem-based management actions are urgently needed to ensure the conservation of this fragile population of bottlenose dolphins. Conservation measures should be developed within the already-existing political and legal marine biodiversity conservation framework and in collaboration with local authorities and stakeholders.
Authors: Gonzalvo, Joan, Forcada, Jaume, Grau, Esteve, Aguilar, Alex