Browsing Electronic Theses (Proquest) by Title "ASSESSMENT OF STRAND FEEDING IN COMMON BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (Tursiops truncatus) IN THE WATERS SURROUNDING CAPTAIN SAM’S INLET, SOUTH CAROLINA"
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- ItemASSESSMENT OF STRAND FEEDING IN COMMON BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS (Tursiops truncatus) IN THE WATERS SURROUNDING CAPTAIN SAM’S INLET, SOUTH CAROLINABayles, Courtney LynnThe stock structure of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) along the western North Atlantic Ocean is complex, with coastal and estuary stocks having some degree of seasonal overlap. Captain Sam’s Inlet, located between Seabrook and Kiawah Islands, South Carolina, USA, is one of a few habitats utilized around the world by dolphins to strand feed. Through the use of land-based photo-ID, twelve individuals were observed and matched to those documented in the Charleston Estuarine System Stock. Six were classified as having low site fidelity and six were classified as having moderate site fidelity. Seasonal patterns showed the highest influx of dolphins in the summer and fall, which matched that of previous years (Rust, Personal Communication 2018-2022). Strand feeding was found to occur significantly at low tide, but novel data was recorded of strand feeding occurring at high tide. At this time, it is unknown what habitat dolphins are utilizing following strand feeding as the secondary field site yielded only one observation of a dolphin in the river system. Additional observational surveys of visitor behavior during periods when dolphin educators were present or absent were conducted in order to determine if there was a change in dolphin behavior when visitors came within the 45-foot viewing guideline set in place by Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network. Violations were minimized when educators were present, but the frequency of strand feeding in the area persisted. Dolphins could be seen moving away to less crowded areas of the beach when humans approached while strand feeding was occurring. It is important for management, conservation, and educational purposes to know how many animals could be effected by increased development and tourism in this area as development continues to increase along barrier islands with critical habitats such as Captain Sam’s Inlet.