Marine Biology

, Volume 159, Issue 10, pp 2161–2172 | Cite as

Bottlenose dolphins and aquaculture: interaction and site fidelity on the north-eastern coast of Sardinia (Italy)

  • Bruno Díaz LópezEmail author
Original Paper


Owing to the worldwide growth of aquaculture over the last years, new habitats have been created through the supplement of nutrients. This addition of nutrients affects the whole marine food web, resulting in predator species such as bottlenose dolphins becoming attracted to these areas. During this 5-year-long study that was carried out along the north-eastern coast of Sardinia (Italy), bottlenose dolphin’s history of exposure to aquaculture perturbations and their effects was documented. The interaction with a fish farm was assessed by studying the site fidelity, group dynamics, and seasonal and yearly occurrence. In all, 1,838 hours were spent in the field. Behavioural observations showed that the predominant activity (89 % of the time) in the fish farm was foraging (predation and depredation). The occurrence of bottlenose dolphins appeared to be related with the seasons and with the fish farm harvesting operations. Thus, the peak dolphin occurrence in the fish farm area throughout Fall coincides with the period in which they spend most of their time foraging. A relatively small community remained resident interacting with the fish farm over a long period of time. Hence, these individuals gained intimate knowledge on how to capitalize on the fish farm industry. This heterogeneity in site fidelity and residence patterns is highly relevant when coastal management initiatives are considered.


Fish Farm Bottlenose Dolphin Aquaculture Industry Marine Aquaculture Grey Heron 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Funding for this research came from the Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute—BDRI. This study would not have been possible without the willingness of the fish farm manager Dr. Graziano and fish farm workers, and I wish to thank them for their help and cooperation. Heartfelt thanks are extended to the BDRI member Selma Bajraktarevic who helped with the manuscript and all the volunteers and internships who gave generously of their time to help with field work. Data collection complies with the current laws of the country in which it was performed, Italy.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute (BDRI)Golfo Aranci (Sardinia)Italy

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