Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis

Department

Biological Sciences

First Advisor

Stan Kuczaj, Ph.D.

Advisor Department

Psychology

Abstract

Bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus, are reported to have close associations with shrimp trawlers worldwide. The goal of this study was to assess differences in the behavior for bottlenose dolphins between activity states of shrimp trawlers in the Mississippi Sound. During active trawling, nets are actively gathering the catch closely behind the trawler, which provide feeding opportunities for bottlenose dolphins. Non-active groups are not able to take advantage of feeding prospects and display fewer feeding behaviors and maintain a farther distance than active trawler groups. Video of trawlers were collected from the Mississippi Wild Dolphin Project and analyzed for feeding and social behaviors; this study also took note of the state of the dolphins, group size, and distance from the dolphins to the trawlers. Group size was not significant between trawler activity states. Behaviors were statistically significant between active and non-active trawlers. Active trawlers dolphin groups engaged in feeding behaviors, while non-active trawler groups engaged in social behaviors. Bottlenose dolphins associated with active trawlers spent the majority of time at close distances while non-active groups spent most of their time at farther distances.

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