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Keywords:

  • activity pattern;
  • Sotalia guianensis;
  • habitat use;
  • group size;
  • Rio de Janeiro

Abstract

Boat-based surveys were conducted from August 2002 to July 2003 to study the activity patterns, spatial pattern of area use, and group characteristics of Sotalia guianensis in Sepetiba Bay, southeast Brazil. Predetermined routes covered the entrance and interior of the bay, resulting in 210 dolphin sightings during 3,300 km total effort. Data on activity were collected using scan group sampling with instantaneous recording after 5 min of observation. Dolphins were sighted more frequently in the entrance of the bay, where water is deeper, and salinity and transparency are higher, than in the interior of the bay, where the environment is more influenced by freshwater inputs. Foraging and feeding were the most frequent activities, and occurred predominantly between 0600 and 1000. Foraging and feeding peaked during ebbing, low, and flooding tides, while socializing predominated at high tide. Mean group size was larger in the interior of the bay and when seabirds were present. Large aggregations containing >100 individuals of Sotalia guianensis seen year-round indicate that Sepetiba Bay is an important area for this species in coastal Brazil.