Using signature whistles to investigate population dynamics of locally threatened bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in Namibia
Namibia is known for its rolling dunes and desert landscapes. These dunes often roll right into the sea, and into a coastline that hosts an incredibly diverse assemblage of species. Some of the more easily observed wildlife can be seen at the Walvis Bay lagoon, an internationally recognized conservation site for wading birds, or at Cape Cross and Pelican Point, which host immense colonies of Cape fur seals (Arctocephalus pusillis pusillis). The Namibian Dolphin Project (NDP) studies a more cryptic order of animals, cetaceans (whales and dolphins), which are resident to, or migrate through, the coastal waters of Namibia. Founded in 2008, NDP's research investigates a range of questions including the sound production and behaviour of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), Heaviside's dolphins (Cephalorhynchus heavisidii), and humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). The focus of one of our more recent projects is to develop a method to estimate abundance, density, and movement patterns of dolphin populations, using a specific type of whistle produced by some delphinids, the signature whistle. We have termed this method, SWORD: Signature Whistles for Occurrence, Recapture and Density. Keywords: Mark-recapture, spatial capture-recapture, social networks, conservation, passive acoustic monitoring, PAMGuard, marine mammal, individual identification.
Journal of the Namibia Scientific Society