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Keywords:

  • Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin;
  • Tursiops aduncus;
  • mark-recapture analyses;
  • population estimate;
  • Algoa Bay–Eastern Cape–South Africa

Abstract

This study estimates the population size of Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus) in the Algoa Bay region on the Eastern Cape coast of South Africa. Mark-recapture analyses were performed on photo-identification data collected on 54 occasions during a 3-yr-study period. Using a photographic data set of over 10,000 ID-images, 1,569 individuals were identified, 131 of which were photographed on more than one occasion. Using the POPAN formulation in the software program MARK, a total population of approximately 28,482 individuals (95% CI = 16,220–40,744; CV = 0.220), was estimated (estimate corrected for the proportion of distinctive individuals in the population). This is the largest population estimate to date for this species along the South African coast, suggesting that the bottlenose dolphins inhabiting the Algoa Bay region represent part of a substantially larger population that ranges along a considerable length of the South African coast.