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Standardization and application of metrics to quantify human-interaction behaviors by the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops spp.)

Authors

  • Robin M. Perrtree,

    Corresponding author
    1. Marine Sciences Program, Box 20467, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia 31404, U.S.A
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  • Carolyn J. Kovacs,

    1. Marine Sciences Program, Box 20467, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia 31404, U.S.A
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  • Tara M. Cox

    1. Marine Sciences Program, Box 20467, Department of Marine and Environmental Sciences, Savannah State University, Savannah, Georgia 31404, U.S.A
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Abstract

The conditioning of dolphins to human-interaction behaviors has been documented in several areas worldwide. However, the metrics used to report human-interaction behaviors vary among studies, making comparison across study areas difficult. The purpose of this study was to develop standard metrics for reporting human-interaction behaviors and utilize these metrics to quantify the prevalence of human-interaction behaviors by common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) near Savannah, Georgia. The four metrics used were percentage of days with human-interaction behaviors, percentage of sightings with human-interaction behaviors, percentage of the catalog that interacted with humans, and spatial extent of human-interaction behaviors. Human-interaction behaviors were observed on 69.6% of days and 23.5% of sightings near Savannah. In addition, 20.1% of the animals in the catalog were observed interacting with humans. These rates are much higher than those found in other areas with known issues with human-interaction behaviors. These behaviors were observed across an area of 272.6 km2, which is larger than other reported areas. The four metrics used in this study proved to be a valuable way to report human-interaction behaviors, and their use is recommended for future studies to allow for comparison among areas.

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