Assessment of Alabama Estuarine Bottlenose Dolphin Populations and Health
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; State of Alabama
DWH Project Funding
Known Leveraged Funding
Natural Resource Damage Assessment Trustees (NRDA)
Natural Resource Damage Assessment NRDA
Monitoring and Observations
The project will measure seasonal dolphin abundance, distribution, and habitat use to provide baseline assessment information for dolphin stocks within Alabama state waters. The project will also assess dolphin condition based on observation and biopsy sampling post-Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Four remote biopsy surveys will be conducted in Mobile Bay and Perdido Bay to obtain statistically valid seasonal sample sizes for analysis of genetic stock structure, body condition, diet, and toxicology assessments. Winter 2019–2020 and summer 2020 remote biopsy surveys will be conducted across Perdido Bay and adjacent coastal waters. Remote biopsy sampling in Mobile Bay and adjacent coastal waters will be conducted during the winter 2020–2021 and summer 2021 sampling season. Twelve seasonal photo-ID surveys will be conducted at sites in Perdido Bay and Mobile Bay. Abundance estimates for Perdido Bay and Mobile Bay will follow established methods (e.g.mark-recapture). Additional methods will include genetic analyses, stable isotope analyses, and habitat modeling (including human threats). The objective is to inform the Alabama Trustee Implementation Group (AL TIG) and other agency restoration initiatives about baseline population characteristics as reference points for evaluating restoration progress, as well as providing information on marine mammal habitat use that might suggest effective approaches for increasing populations in Alabama. The project will be implemented by the Dauphin Island Sea Lab in collaboration with National Marine Fisheries Service Southeast Fisheries Science Center (NMFS SEFSC).