Presentation Title

Dolphin Presence Increased During COVID19 Lockdown in Dolphin Bay, Panama

Project Collaborators

Betzi Perez (Fundacion Panacetacea), Emma Gagne (University of Vermont), Laura May-Collado (University of Vermont)

Abstract

Previous research has described the habitat of bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin Bay, Panama as stressful. Dolphins are targeted by multiple tour-boats consistently on a daily basis. Bottlenose dolphins rely on sound to communicate, localize prey, and navigate. Previous work has shown the impact of tour-boats and associated noise on their communication. In this research, we study dolphin acoustic presence before and during COVID-19 lockdowns. We generated a presence-absence matrix of dolphin and boat detections for data collected using autonomous underwater recorders in 2018 and 2020. We hypothesize that a decrease in boat traffic following COVID-19 regulations will directly lead to an increase in dolphin frequency in Dolphin Bay. This research will provide marine ecologists with a better understanding of the impact that unregulated boat traffic has on dolphin populations and inform ongoing conservation efforts.

Primary Faculty Mentor Name

Laura May Collado

Status

Undergraduate

Student College

College of Arts and Sciences

Program/Major

Biological Science

Primary Research Category

Biological Sciences

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Dolphin Presence Increased During COVID19 Lockdown in Dolphin Bay, Panama

Previous research has described the habitat of bottlenose dolphins in Dolphin Bay, Panama as stressful. Dolphins are targeted by multiple tour-boats consistently on a daily basis. Bottlenose dolphins rely on sound to communicate, localize prey, and navigate. Previous work has shown the impact of tour-boats and associated noise on their communication. In this research, we study dolphin acoustic presence before and during COVID-19 lockdowns. We generated a presence-absence matrix of dolphin and boat detections for data collected using autonomous underwater recorders in 2018 and 2020. We hypothesize that a decrease in boat traffic following COVID-19 regulations will directly lead to an increase in dolphin frequency in Dolphin Bay. This research will provide marine ecologists with a better understanding of the impact that unregulated boat traffic has on dolphin populations and inform ongoing conservation efforts.