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Abstract

Many of the threats to bottlenose dolphins are anthropogenic factors including overfishing, high-speed boats, chemical runoff, and noise pollution. Having a thorough understanding of the behavior and behavioral patterns of these animals can help with conservation plans to protect this species. This study examined the behavioral states and behavioral events of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Mississippi Sound. The behavioral states exhibited by dolphins within the Sound were found to vary by both season and time of day. Dolphins socialized more during the spring and spent more time feeding in the fall. Feeding was highest early in the morning and decreased throughout the day, while socializing occurred at low levels in the morning and increased in the early afternoon. Two distinct forms of social behavior and multiple feeding strategies were exhibited by dolphins within the Sound. Results suggest that certain percussive behavioral events may be used to communicate motivation during transitional behavioral states. These results demonstrate the need for a more complete understanding of dolphin behavior that will facilitate the conservation of this species.