Activity budget of inshore Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus): A critical evaluation of methods and comparison among other populations



Activity budgets are widely used to compare behavior patterns but sampling methods vary, rendering comparisons difficult. The two main methods used are instantaneous and continuous sampling. Their comparability was examined by applying them to data obtained from bottlenose dolphins in the Port River estuary, South Australia. They gave comparable results for activity budgets, but instantaneous sampling did not detect most of the behavioral events. Individual differences in behavior and/or follow duration influenced results. Variability in activity definitions and categories among studies makes comparative analysis difficult. Comparison of the Port River dolphin's activity budget with other inshore populations indicated the former spent more time feeding and resting, and less time traveling. The greater feeding time seemed to be due to small prey size rather than reduced abundance or unpredictable distribution. The reduced traveling time, possibly the result of low predation pressure and/or evenly distributed prey, gave them more time to rest. They traveled mostly at 2.5 kn or less, consistent with studies from other shallow areas. Most feeding was individual, probably on demersal species. Surface feeding incorporated physical barriers rather than cooperative behavior. Activity durations ranged from 2 s to 2.9 h, with mean durations varying from 7.8 to 22.9 min.