The Impact of Covid-19 Lockdowns on Bottlenose Dolphin and Toadfish Occurrence in Almirante Bay, Panama

Abstract

Covid-19 lockdowns resulted in a decline of global traffic density, resulting in a unique opportunity to study the impact of boat noise on sonorous marine organisms. Here we study potential changes in bottlenose dolphins, toad fish, and boat presence before and during Covid-19 lockdowns in Almirante Bay, Panama. Almirante Bay’s is home to taxi and ferry companies that provide access to various islands in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro and is a major port for export of produce. We generated a presence-absence matrix of sound detections from bottlenose dolphins, toadfish, and boats using acoustic data collected with autonomous underwater recorders on a 24-hour cycle. We hypothesize that during Covid-19 lockdowns there was a decline in traffic density resulting in an increase in detection rate of dolphins and toadfish. The results from this study add to an increasing body of evidence on the short-term impacts of anthropogenic noise to marine life and provides important information that can be use in ongoing conservation efforts.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May Collado

Faculty/Staff Collaborators

Laura May Collado, Betzi Perez

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biology

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

Abstract only.

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The Impact of Covid-19 Lockdowns on Bottlenose Dolphin and Toadfish Occurrence in Almirante Bay, Panama

Covid-19 lockdowns resulted in a decline of global traffic density, resulting in a unique opportunity to study the impact of boat noise on sonorous marine organisms. Here we study potential changes in bottlenose dolphins, toad fish, and boat presence before and during Covid-19 lockdowns in Almirante Bay, Panama. Almirante Bay’s is home to taxi and ferry companies that provide access to various islands in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro and is a major port for export of produce. We generated a presence-absence matrix of sound detections from bottlenose dolphins, toadfish, and boats using acoustic data collected with autonomous underwater recorders on a 24-hour cycle. We hypothesize that during Covid-19 lockdowns there was a decline in traffic density resulting in an increase in detection rate of dolphins and toadfish. The results from this study add to an increasing body of evidence on the short-term impacts of anthropogenic noise to marine life and provides important information that can be use in ongoing conservation efforts.