Marine Biology

, Volume 152, Issue 1, pp 165–177 | Cite as

Habitat use by dusky dolphin in patagonia: how predictable is their location?

  • Griselda V. GaraffoEmail author
  • Silvana L. Dans
  • Susana N. Pedraza
  • Enrique A. Crespo
  • Mariana Degrati
Research Article


Off Patagonian coasts, Argentina, the dusky dolphin is one of the most common small cetaceans. This species is the aim of newly developed watching activities during summer in Golfo Nuevo. However, the real occurrence and movement pattern are unknown. The objectives of this work were to investigate the predictability of dusky dolphin distribution, group structure and behaviour in the western portion of Golfo Nuevo, with respect to environmental features (bottom depth, bottom slope, distance from shore and substrate). Random transects in the bay were searched by small boat during the summer and autumn of 2001–2004. When a group of dolphins was sighted, estimates of group size, composition (mothers with calves, adults and juveniles only, and mixed groups) and the predominant activity (feeding, travelling, socialising, resting and milling) were recorded and thereafter at 2 min intervals. A grid of 1.5 × 1.5 km was constructed and each cell was characterised by environmental features, Area Use Index (percent of total annual search effort) and Activity Index (predominant behaviour of groups observed in that cell). Mothers with calves and smaller groups and resting behaviour occurred in shallowest waters supporting the idea/hypothesis that movement to shallower water is related to increased safety for individuals. Travelling occurred in the deepest areas with other behaviours observed in intermediate depths. Dolphin distribution within the bay differed significantly between years, but this was not related to any of the factors analysed in this study. Although there was considerable variation between years, in general, dolphins were found in deeper waters further from shore (except for mother–calf groups) and over areas with steeper seafloor gradient. The high variability in the distribution of the animals does not allow for the generation of a simple, area-specific management plan.


Killer Whale Bottlenose Dolphin Nautical Chart Principal Component Account Patagonian Coast 
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.



This research received logistic and institutional support from Centro Nacional Patagónico (CONICET) and the University of Patagonia. Funds were received from Agencia Nacional de Promoción Científica y Tecnológica (PICT N° 01–4030 A and PICT N° 11679), CONICET (PID 320/99), Fundación BBVA, Project PNUD ARG-02/018 (B-B27) and Fundación Vida Silvestre Argentina. Fieldwork was assisted by Hydrosport SRL, J. Owen and volunteers from Universidad de la Patagonia (Argentina) and Universidad de la República (Uruguay). We thank B. Berón Vera and R. Loizaga de Castro for helpful comments on the manuscript. Thanks are also given to B. Rossiter, Cetacean Society International, for the grant to S.L. Dans who attended the 16 th European Cetacean Society Conference in Liege, and to M. Degrati and G.V. Garaffo who attended the 11° RT in Ecuador. We thank anonymous referees for their contributions that greatly improved the quality of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Griselda V. Garaffo
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Silvana L. Dans
    • 1
    • 2
  • Susana N. Pedraza
    • 1
    • 2
  • Enrique A. Crespo
    • 1
    • 2
  • Mariana Degrati
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Laboratorio de Mamíferos MarinosCentro Nacional Patagónico (CONICET)Puerto MadrynArgentina
  2. 2.Universidad Nacional de la PatagoniaPuerto MadrynArgentina

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