Spinner dolphins in Hawaii are a popular tourist attraction, but these dolphins sleep during the day and frequent human interference is disrupting their rest periods.
“Using the maps produced through this study we can identify the bays where the effects of human activities on spinner dolphins should be monitored most closely, and where immediate conservation actions are required,” said David W. Johnston, research scientist at Duke’s Nicholas School of the Environment.
In their study, they found that only 21 out of 99 bays are appropriate habitats for resting dolphins so conservation efforts can be focused in those specific areas.
“We may be able to minimize detrimental effects on dolphins by putting restrictions or preventative measures into place in a relatively small number of bays, rather than limiting access to dolphins along the entire coast,” said lead author Lesley H. Thorne, a lecturer in marine science at Stony Brook University. “That benefits tourists and tourism operators as well as the dolphins.”
“Sleep is essential for most animals,” explained Johnston. “When deprived of their necessary ‘zzzz’s,’ they gradually show a decreased ability to process information and remain attentive to environmental stimuli. In technical lingo, we call this a ‘vigilance decrement’.”
- You can read the full press release from Duke University here: New Maps May Reduce Tourism Impacts on Hawaiian Dolphins.
- You can read the full study, published in PLoS ONE on August 27 here: Predictive Modeling of Spinner Dolphin (Stenella longirostris) Resting Habitat in the Main Hawaiian Islands.
Copyright © 2012 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.