Field Studies

Completed Scientific Studies

Field studies, or fieldwork, is the collection of information outside of a laboratory, library or workplace setting. Most of the studies in this category take place in or on the ocean, bays, and rivers. Dolphin Quest supports field studies through financial contributions, as well as staff participation, time and expertise.

 

Completed Studies Years Supported by DQ
1. Field Survey of Toxin Producing Algae 1989
2. Kula Nai’a Project 1991
3. Upper Gulf of California/Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve 1992
4. Vocal Communication in Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaengliae 1992
5. Pilot Study of Vocalizations and Behaviors of Several Cetacean Species off Kona, Hawaii 1996
6. The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin: Effects of Human Activities 1996
7. The Ecology and Biology of Rough-Toothed Dolphins (Steno bredanensis) off Moorea, French Polynesia 1998-2002
8. Population Structure and Movements of Hawaiian Odontocetes – Assessment of Overlap with Naval Activities and Longline Fisheries 2001
9. Marine Mammal Gill Net Detection Study 2002
10. Goose Creek Stream Monitoring Program 2002-2008
11.Tagging and Tracking of Rough-Toothed, Melon-Headed, and Fraser’s Dolphins in French Polynesia 2003
12. Bermuda Dolphin Tracking Program 2004-2006
13. Soundscape Study – Characterizing the Underwater Sounds in Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park (Kaho) 2005
14. Determining Habitat Use, Movements, and Foraging Patterns of Instrumented Wild Dolphins Following Release from Health Assessment Studies in the Southeastern US 2006
15. NOAA Florida Panhandle Dolphin Health Assessments 2006
16. Black Sea and Mediterranean Dolphin Population Genetics 2006-2007
17. Habitat Use and Distribution of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary in Northwest Florida 2006-2008
18. Movements of Island-Associated Cetaceans in Hawaii 2006-2009
19. Caribbean Dolphin Phylogeography 2006-2011
20. Pygmy Sperm Whale Stranding Efforts 2007
21. Argentina Franciscana Dolphin Project 2007
22. Hawaii Spinner Dolphins Photo-ID 2007
23. Dolphin Health Assessments (Indian River Lagoon, Florida) 2007
24. Demographics of Stranded Bottlenose Dolphins off the Coast of Texas 2007
25. Foraging Ecology of Stenella attenuata in Hawaiian Waters 2007
26. Melon-Headed Whales (Peponocephela electra) in Hawaiian Waters – a Look at Population Size and Structure 2007-2009
27. Odontocete Population Boundaries within the Hawaiian Islands – Using Remotely-Deployed Satellite Tags to Study Offshore and Inter-Island Movements 2009
28. Pre- and Postnatal Growth, Age, and Population Demographics of Stranded Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off the Coast of Texas 2009
29. Population Structure and Movements of Hawaiian Odontocetes – Assessment of Overlap with Naval Activities and Longline Fisheries 2010-2011
30. Movements and Habitats of Hawaiian Odontocetes: Assessment of High-Density Areas, Stock Boundaries, and Overlap with Fisheries 2011-2012
31. Estimating Abundance of Spinner Dolphins off the Kona Coast of Hawai’i as Time/Area Closure Management Actions are Implemented 2012
32. West Florida Shelf Bottlenose Dolphins – Population Structure, Health, Oil Spill Impacts 2012
33. Long-Term Environmental Contaminant Trends in Bottlenose Dolphins 2013
34. Bermuda Wild Dolphin Tracking Project / Deep Diving Bottlenose Dolphin Study 2015

Field Survey of Toxin Producing Algae

Project Investigators: Dr. Isabella Abbott

Affiliate Organizations: University of Hawaii at Honolulu, Dolphin Quest, and Waikoloa Marine Life Fund

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1989

Project Description: This project examined potential biological toxin production in algae of the Kohala coastal environment and studied the changes in toxin production over time.


Kula Nai’a Project

Project Investigators: Jan Ostman, Ania Driscoll, & Ken Norris, Ph. D.

Affiliate Organizations: University of California at Santa Cruz, Dolphin Quest, and Waikoloa Marine Life Fund

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1991

Project Description: This long-term project examined behavior, identification, and communication of the Hawaiian spinner dolphin through the use of a research boat with a revolutionary underwater viewing chamber. For the first time, it was possible to recognize individuals, determine gender and relative age, as well as to document behavior. Although the spinner and spotted dolphin species are protected in Hawaiian waters, they are heavily affected by drift net and purse seine tuna fisheries operations throughout the rest of the Pacific. This project began to provide baseline information about the Hawaiian spinner dolphin that will enable more effective protective measures for dolphins worldwide.


Upper Gulf of California/Colorado River Delta Biosphere Reserve

Affiliate Organizations: Dolphin Quest and the Waikoloa Marine Life Fund

Species: Vaquita (Phocoena sinus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1992

Project Description: To establish a plan for management of the upper Sea of Cortez, to address the protection of the endangered Vaquita while providing indigenous local people with assistance in fishing methods, equipment and enforcement capabilities towards assuring continued productivity of the area. The significance of this project, aside from the intent to provide assistance to this particular animal species as well as to create an overall management plan for the area, was the cooperative nature of the effort. This was a multi-disciplinary cooperative effort between Mexican scientists, U.S. public-display institutions and conservation organizations.


Vocal Communication in Humpback Whales, Megaptera novaeangliae

Project Investigators: Louis M. Herman, Ph.D.

Affiliate Organizations: University of Hawaii at Honolulu, Dolphin Quest and Waikoloa Marine Life Fund

Species: Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1992

Project Description: This project investigated communication, behavior and distribution of the endangered humpback whale using acoustic localization techniques. A series of sonobuoys anchored off the Big Island enabled researchers to locate, identify and study singing Humpback whales, which may be out of visual range. This innovative research aids in understanding context and functions of humpback songs and social interactions, habitat management, and marine environmental conservation projects.


Pilot Study of Vocalizations and Behaviors of Several Cetacean Species off Kona, Hawaii

Project Investigators: Laela Sayigh Ph.D. and Peter Tyack, Ph.D.

Affiliate Organizations: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Boston, MA and Dolphin Quest

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1996

Project Description: Little is known of spinner, spotted, and bottlenose dolphins, pilot whales, false killer whales, and melon-headed whales. This study utilized towed video and audio instruments to gather behavior and vocalization data for baseline information on these and other near-shore Hawaiian species.


The Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin: Effects of Human Activities

Project Investigators: Anna Forest and Bernard Wursig, D.V.M.

Affiliate Organizations: Texas A&M University at Galveston, Dolphin Quest, and Waikoloa Marine Life Fund

Species: Hawaiian Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1996

Project Description: Study assessed the impact of human activity on spinner dolphins frequenting Kealakekua Bay on the Island of Hawaii. This study worked on determining if recent purposeful human interaction with wild spinner dolphins has any short-term or long-term effects, such as disruption of  “critical natural behaviors”: resting rhythms, reproduction, and feeding.


The Ecology and Biology of Rough-Toothed Dolphins (Steno bredanensis) off Moorea, French Polynesia

Project Investigators: Kristi West, Ph.D., Claude Payri, Ph.D., Cecile Gaspar, DVM

Affiliate Organizations:  University of Hawaii at Manoa, L’Universite de la Polynesie Francaise, and Dolphin Quest French Polynesia

Species: Rough-Toothed Dolphins (Steno bredanensis)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 1998 to 2002

Project Description: This was the first comprehensive report on the ecology and biology of the rough-toothed dolphin. Study included systematic vessel surveys in French Polynesia to describe distribution and habitat preference of this species around an oceanic island chain. Captive rough-toothed dolphins were blood sampled regularly to describe baseline hormone values in this species of dolphin. Information accumulated on this relatively unknown species will contribute to conservation management of the rough-toothed dolphin in French Polynesia and other regions of the world.


Population Structure and Movements of Hawaiian Odontocetes – Assessment of Overlap with Naval Activities and Longline Fisheries

Project Investigators: Schorr, G. S.,   McSweeney, D. J., Andrews, R. D.

Affiliate Organizations: Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA; Wild Whale Research Foundation, Kona, HI; Alaska SeaLife Center, Seward, AK

Species: Various species of small and medium toothed whales (odontocetes)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2001

Project Description: A field study to examine movements and habitat use of small and medium sized toothed whales in the waters around the Hawaiian island. Gain understanding of habit overlap with naval activities and longline fisheries.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Increased understanding of habitat use and overlap with naval activities and longline fisheries can be used to inform conservation and management decisions


Marine Mammal Gill Net Detection Study

Project Investigators: Nachtigall, P. E., Mooney, A., Billy Hurley,  Havlis, D., Norman, H.

Affiliate Organizations: Marine Mammal Research Program at University of Hawaii, Manoa

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2002

Project Description: This project investigated the acoustic reflectivity of the monofilament nets currently used in the gillnet fishing industry and an alternative net made of barium sulfate, which is believed to be more reflective. The purpose of this study is to determine the maximum detectable distance of the two different gillnets by Atlantic bottlenose dolphins.

Marine Mammal /Conservation Benefit: If barium sulfate nets are more reflective, and can be detected by dolphins from a greater distance than traditional gillnets,  this would address a possible solution to the high levels of dolphin bycatch in the gillnet fishery.


Goose Creek Stream Monitoring Program

Project Investigators: Woolman, M., Rae Stone, Edens, H.

Affiliate Organizations: Goose Creek Association

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2002 to 2008

Project Description: The fundamental mission is to protect and preserve the natural resources of 835 stream bank miles of Goose Creek watershed. Monitoring and testing of 17 macro invertebrate sites two times a year, E-coli and chemical testing of 20 sites four times a year. Conduct a variety of tests through support of stream monitoring volunteers.

Conservation Benefit: Stream monitoring helps determine water quality in our streams, which aids us in keeping our waterways healthy, preserved and protected


Tagging and Tracking of Rough-Toothed, Melon-Headed, and Fraser’s Dolphins in French Polynesia

Project Investigators: Kristi West, Payri, C.

Affiliate Organizations: Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC; L’Universite de la Polynesie Francaise, Papeete

Species: Rough-toothed dolphin (Steno bredanensis), melon-headed whale (Peponocephala electra) and Fraser’s dolphins (Lagenodelphis hosei)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2003

Project Description: This research involved tagging and tracking of dolphin species commonly sighted in French Polynesian waters. Project objectives included attachment of VHF radio transmitters and satellite tags in order to establish movement patterns and provide insight into home ranges of rough-toothed dolphins, melon headed whales, and Frasers dolphins.

Marine Mammal/ Conservation Benefit: Insight into home ranges and movement pattern of rough-toothed dolphins, melon headed whales, and Frasers dolphins.


Bermuda Dolphin Tracking Project

Project Investigators: Leigh J. Klatsky, M.S., Jay C. Sweeney, V.M.D., and Randall S. Wells, Ph.D.

Affiliate Organizations: Dolphin Quest / Quest Global Management, Chicago Zoological Society

Species: Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2003 t0 2007

Project Description: This project investigated the behavior and habitat use of offshore bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) found over the deep waters around the Bermuda Pedestal. Project used satellite-linked time-depth recorders to exam the dolphin movements and dive behaviors of Tursiops truncatus to obtain a greater understanding of the species diving capabilities and adaptations.


Soundscape Study – Characterizing the Underwater Sounds in Kaloko‐Honokohau National Historical Park (Kaho)

Project Investigators: Driscoll‐Lind, A.

Affiliate Organizations: Kula Naia Foundation

Species: various marine species

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2005

Project Description: Collecting and analyzing data on the current levels of underwater sounds of the Kaloko‐Honokohau Historical park with the goal of being able to document how the underwater noise varies temporally over the year.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Data collected on underwater noise variation seasonally over the year can inform further studies on the effects of underwater noise on marine mammals


Determining Habitat Use, Movements, and Foraging Patterns of Instrumented Wild Dolphins Following Release from Health Assessment Studies in the Southeastern USA

Project Investigators: Shippee, S. F.

Affiliate Organizations: University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2006

Project Description: Five dolphins in the Sarasota Bay and Indian River Lagoon were tagged with Trac Pacs. Findings of foraging activity were recorded in three animals. Swim speed, diving, and environmental data on all five animals to add to the database on previously gathered information using this technique since 1995.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: The primary contributions to science have been to gain a better understanding of the biology, behavior, ecology, health, and population dynamics of coastal Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). In addition to maintaining dolphin population life history data, this assessment is helping to evaluate the impact of oil spills and other environmental contaminants and biotoxins on dolphins.


NOAA Florida Panhandle Dolphin Health Assessments

Project Investigators: Schwacke, L.

Affiliate Organizations: NOAA

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2006

Project Description: This project is part of an extensive investigation into several bottlenose dolphin Unusual Mortality Events (UMEs) that have occurred in and around St. Joseph Bay since 1999. Many of these mortalities have been linked to brevetoxin exposure.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: The primary contributions to science have been to gain a better understanding of the biology, behavior, ecology, health, and population dynamics of coastal Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). In addition to maintaining dolphin population life history data, this assessment is helping to evaluate the impact of brevetoxin and other environmental contaminants and biotoxins on dolphins.


Black Sea and Mediterranean Dolphin Population Genetics

Project Investigators: Viaud, K.

Affiliate Organizations: San Diego State University

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2006 to 2007

Project Description: The goal of this project is to analyze microsatellites (nuclear DNA) samples from bottlenose dolphins located in the Black Sea, Mediterranean regions and Atlantic coast of France. These results will provide information on the structure of bottlenose dolphin populations from the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea along the coast of Greece, Israel, Italy and France.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit:

  • Contributes to the body of knowledge of bottlenose dolphin genetics
  • Increase understanding of the genetics of specific ecotypes within the species

Habitat Use and Distribution of Bottlenose Dolphins in the Choctawhatchee Bay Estuary in Northwest Florida

Project Investigators: Shippee, S. F.

Affiliate Organizations: University of Central Florida, Orlando, FL

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported:  2006 to 2008

Project Description: This project is a field investigation to determine changes to habitat use and distribution of bottlenose dolphins in a coastal bay impacted by disturbance, environmental degradation, and harmful algal blooms.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Insight into home ranges and movement pattern of bottlenose dolphins in the Choctawhatchee Bay.


Movements of Island‐Associated Cetaceans in Hawaii

Project Investigators: Robin Baird

Affiliate Organizations: Cascadia Research Collective

Species: False killer whales (Pseudorca crassidens) and short-finned pilot whales (Globicephala macrorhynchus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2006 to 2009

Project Description: This project allowed for the first remote deployments of satellite transmitters on false killer whales, as well as additional deployments on short‐finned pilot whales.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Monitoring and tracking odontocetes in Hawaiian waters, gives a better understanding of the species that travel or live in the area. This might aid in expanding national marine sanctuaries or changing shipping lanes if animals are found to frequent specific areas.


Caribbean Dolphin Phylogeography

Project Investigators: Mignucci‐Giannoni, A. A.

Affiliate Organizations: Caribeña de Varamientos, Caribbean Stranding Network

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2006 to 2011

Project Description: The goal of this study is to assess the population structure of bottlenose dolphins in the US Caribbean and adjacent areas using morphological and molecular techniques to determine units of conservation and management in order to address the issue of the removal of the species from the wild.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit:

  • Increased understanding of the population structure and demographics of the Caribbean  bottlenose dolphins
  • Knowledge gain about the population can be applied to population management and conservation efforts

Pygmy Sperm Whale Stranding Efforts

Project Investigators: Dolphin Quest Bermuda

Affiliate Organizations: Dolphin Quest Bermuda, Bermuda; Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo, Bermuda

Species: Pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007

Project Description: Dolphin Quest Bermuda provided substantial time and effort towards a stranded pygmy sperm whale (Kogia breviceps) on a beach on the islands of Bermuda.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Efforts made to rescue a stranded pygmy sperm whale not only increase the likelihood of the individual’s survival, but also provides a unique opportunity to gather data from an infrequently seen or studied species. This data can be applied to subsequent rescue effort, and generalized conservation efforts.


Argentina Franciscana Dolphin Project

Project Investigators: Randy Wells, Bordino, P.

Affiliate Organizations: Sarasota Dolphin Research Program and AquaMarina

Species: Argentina Franciscana dolphin (Pontoporia blainvillei)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007

Project Description: An international team of 44 biologists, veterinarians, students, park rangers, fishermen from Bahia Samborombon, and trained volunteers, participated in a field tracking project. Four satellite‐linked transmitters were deployed, on three adult females and one young male. Tracking lasted up to six months. The San Blas dolphins showed the same degree of site fidelity as the Samborombon dolphins, moving from inside the bay to waters immediately outside, and returning. They also showed the same significant tidally‐related movement patterns, being found farther inside the bay on high tides, and towards the mouth or outside on low tides.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Monitoring and tracking dolphins in Argentinian waters, gives a better understanding of home ranges of the population. This might aid in expanding marine sanctuaries, area use management, or conservation efforts


Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins Photo‐ID

Project Investigators: Ostman‐Lind, J.

Affiliate Organizations: Kula Nai’a Foundation

Species: Hawaiian spinner dolphin (Stenella longirostris)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007

Project Description: The goal is to establish the long term residency of the population of spinner dolphins found along the coast of the island of Hawaii.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Although the spinner and spotted dolphin species are protected in Hawaiian waters, they are heavily affected by drift net and purse seine tuna fisheries operations throughout the rest of the Pacific. This project began to provide baseline information about the Hawaiian spinner dolphin that will enable more effective protective measures for dolphins worldwide.


Dolphin Health Assessments (Indian River Lagoon, Florida)

Project Investigators: McCulloch, S.

Affiliate Organizations: Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007

Project Description: This collaborative program is known as the Health and Environmental Risk Assessment Project (HERA). The HERA Bottlenose Dolphin Project involves the capture, sampling and release of selected wild dolphin stocks to allow comprehensive health screenings by collecting and analyzing a variety of biomedical samples and associated data.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: The primary contributions to science have been to gain a better understanding of the biology, behavior, ecology, health, and population dynamics of coastal Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). In addition to maintaining dolphin population life history data, this assessment is helping to evaluate the impact of oil spills and other environmental contaminants and biotoxins on dolphins.


Demographics of Stranded Bottlenose Dolphins off the Coast of Texas

Project Investigators: Christopher D. Marshall

Affiliate Organizations: Texas A & M University at Galveston

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007

Project Description: The objectives of the proposed research are to use teeth from stranded bottlenose dolphins to determine age structure, growth from length‐at‐age stranding data using a Gompertz model, mean length‐at birth, and  calving season.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Contribute to the data on stranded dolphins, in particular the demographics of stranded individuals.


Foraging Ecology of (Stenella attenuata) in Hawaiian Waters

Project Investigators: Au, W. W. I., Richlen, M.

Affiliate Organizations: Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, University of HI at Manoa

Species: Pantropical spotted dolphins (Stenella attenuata)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007

Project Description: This project is studying the foraging behavior of pan-pacific spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata) in Hawaiian waters. A scientific echosounder is being used to map the prey field and an acoustic tag attached to the spotted dolphin is being used to examine the time-depth and echolocation behavior of foraging spotted dolphins.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Increased scientific understanding of the prey and foraging behaviors of the pan-pacific spotted dolphin contributes to the overall body of knowledge on Hawaiian cetacean behavior and range use


Melon-Headed Whales (Peponocephela electra) in Hawaiian Waters – A Look at Population Size and Structure

Project Investigators: Watkins, J. A, Kristi West, Robin Baird, Jessica Aschettino

Affiliate Organizations: Hawaii Pacific University, Kaneohe, HI; Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA

Species: Melon-headed whales (Peponocephela electra)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2007 to 2009

Project Description: Estimate population size and evaluate population structure for melon-headed whales in Hawaiian waters. Create a photo-identification catalog using previously collected photographs of melon-headed whales from the Hawaiian Islands between 2000 and 2007. Re-sighting data will also allow for an examination of population structure. Individual home ranges, site-fidelity and the possibility of inter and intra-island movements will be investigated from sighting data.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: A completed catalog will allow for the use of mark-recapture techniques to estimate the population size of melon-headed whales in Hawaii. Data gathered will allow  for the better management of  the species both in Hawaii and globally


Odontocete Population Boundaries within the Hawaiian Islands – Using Remotely-Deployed Satellite Tags to Study Offshore and Inter-Island Movements

Project Investigators: Robin Baird

Affiliate Organizations: Cascadia Research Collective, Olympia, WA

Species: Various toothed whales

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2009

Project Description: Odontocete population boundaries within the Hawaiian Islands using remotely-deployed satellite tags to study offshore and inter-island movements

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Monitoring and tracking toothed whales in Hawaiian waters, gives a better understanding of the species that travel or live in the area. This might aid in expanding national marine sanctuaries or changing shipping lanes if animals are found to frequent specific areas.


Pre- and Postnatal Growth, Age, and Population Demographics of Stranded Bottlenose Dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) off the Coast of Texas

Project Investigators: Marshall, C. D.

Affiliate Organizations: Texas A&M University at Galveston

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2009

Project Description: This study aims to determine population age structure of Texas coast bottlenose dolphins.

  • Determine mean length-at-birth and validate calving season
  • Determine prenatal and postnatal growth for bottlenose dolphins from ‘length-at-age’ ultrasonographic and stranding data
  • Compare ‘length at birth’ values calculated from growth models and from neonatal stranding lengths
  • Construct ‘length-at-age’ growth profiles for male and female Texas coastal bottlenose dolphins

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Data from this study will increase scientific understanding of growth and development patterns. It may also assist in future age determination of wild and stranded dolphins.


Population Structure and Movements of Hawaiian Odontocetes – Assessment of Overlap with Naval Activities and Longline Fisheries

Project Investigators: Baird, R. W., Schorr, G. S.,   McSweeney, D. L., Andrews, R. D.

Affiliate Organizations: Cascadia Research Collective; Wild Whale Research Foundation; Alaska Sealife Center

Species: Various toothed whales

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2010 to 2011

Project Description: The purpose of this project is to examine movements and habitat use as well overlap with naval activities and longline fisheries of a number of species of small and medium-sized odontocetes around the main Hawaiian Islands, to help inform conservation and management decisions.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Monitoring and tracking toothed whales in Hawaiian waters, gives a better understanding of the species that travel or live in the area. This might aid in expanding national marine sanctuaries or changing shipping lanes if animals are found to frequent specific areas.


Movements and Habitat use of Hawaiian Odontocetes: Assessment of High-Density Areas, Stock Boundaries, and Overlap with Fisheries

Project Investigator: Robin Baird

Affiliate Organization: Cascadia Research Collective

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2011 to 2012

Project Website: http://www.cascadiaresearch.org/

Project Description: Examine movements and habitat use of Hawaiian odontocetes (toothed whales), assessment of high-density areas, stock boundaries, and overlap with fisheries. Use remotely-deployed satellite tags on several species of toothed whales in Hawaiian waters to examine movements to assess critical habitat, stock boundaries and overlap with the long-line fishery exclusion boundary.


Estimating Abundance of Spinner Dolphins off the Kona Coast of Hawai’i as Time/Area Closure Management Actions are Implemented

Project Investigator: David Johnston

Affiliate Organization: Duke University Marine Laboratory

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2012

Project Description: To further establish the abundance and vital rates of spinner dolphins occurring in Hawai’i and continue collection of photo ID data.


West Florida Shelf Bottlenose Dolphins- Population Structure, Health, Oil Spill Impacts

Project Investigators: Randy Wells, Billy Hurley

Affiliate Organizations: Chicago Zoological Society/Mote Marine Laboratory, Georgia Aquarium

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus)

Dolphin Quest Support: 2012

Project Description: Conducted the first-ever health assessments of continental shelf dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico, and perform the first-ever long-term deployments of satellite-linked telemetry tags on these free-ranging bottlenose dolphins to document their ranging and dive patterns.

Marine Mammal/Conservation Benefit: Study results may shed light on impacts of the Gulf oil spill and potential ways to mitigate future environmental disasters in the ocean. Collection of data on ranging patterns, genetics, and environmental contaminant profiles and concentrations would assist NOAA Fisheries Service with their congressional mandate to define and assess the status of stocks of marine mammals in U.S. waters. In the absence of baseline information for comparisons, it will be difficult to accurately evaluate the long-term impacts of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill on these animals.


Long-term Environmental Contaminant Trends in Bottlenose Dolphins

Project Investigator: Randy Wells

Affiliate Organization: Chicago Zoological Society

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2013

Project Description: To examine changes in female reproductive success in Sarasota Bay bottlenose dolphins relative to possible changes over time in environmental contaminant concentrations in dolphin blubber.Complete contaminant analyses of archived blubber samples from Sarasota dolphins collected since 2005. Examine data for trends in contaminant concentrations over time. Relate contaminant concentrations to female reproductive success for Sarasota Bay dolphins.


Bermuda Wild Dolphin Tracking Project / Deep Diving Bottlenose Dolphin Study

Project Investigators:  Michael Moore, Randy Wells, Aaron Barleycorn, Jason Allen, Jay Sweeney, Andreas Fahlman, Alexandra Eppel

Affiliate Organizations: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Chicago Zoological Society, Texas A&M, Dolphin Quest

Species: Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) 

Dolphin Quest Supported: 2015

Project Description: Study health, diving and respiratory physiology, resting metabolic rate, and acoustic, diving and movement behavior of a resident, deep diving population of Tursiops truncatus in the waters off Bermuda

Marine Mammal Benefit / Conservation Benefit: To gain a better understanding of the bottlenose dolphins species living in the waters off Bermuda