A note from our Research Team:
Alfonz - Alfonz and his trainer Kayla have been working on his belly breach and have recently made some strong headway! He is starting to come out of the water and "breach" on his belly. This is a relatively complex behavior that may take a while to build, so stay tuned for updates! Al is loving it so far, though, and seems to be very excited when he succeeds with a new step in the behavior.
October has been a busy month for our resident dolphins with the installation of new platforms in both lagoons. Here's how our 7 family members are doing:
DPMMR’s Photo-ID researchers conducted multiple photo-ID surveys between Key Largo and Islamorada at the end of August on both Atlantic and Florida Bay sides. The first day resulted in 3 sightings with a total of 7 individual dolphins which are identified by the nicks and notches on their dorsal fins. Of these dolphins, 4 have been previously sighted within the Upper Keys region. These re-sights suggest strong site fidelity to the region which has implications for management and conservation efforts.
The research department was honored to publish our article, The Effects of Reproductive Status and Water Temperature on the Caloric Intake of Tursiops truncatus in Aquatic Mammals last month. This manuscript is the culmination of over a decade of data collection to advance our understanding of odontocetes' energetic requirements. Several studies have examined the consumption patterns and energy requirements of cetaceans, yet little is known about how these values change with respect to reproductive status and small scale changes in water temperature. Access to Atlantic bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) living under human care in natural seawater enclosures allows for a detailed look into diet (i.e., specific to each catch), intake, and relative energetic adjustments made in response to reproductive and thermoregulatory demands. This project aimed to provide valuable information regarding the complex intersection between life history, season, and prey resources. These data may provide conservative estimates of caloric need for extrapolation to free-ranging populations to estimate the carrying capacity of specific habitats, the resilience of cetaceans in the face of increasing anthropogenic pressure and environmental change, and the impact dolphins have on prey resources and trophic cascades.