ESR 29:35-50 (2015)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00698

Identifying critical areas to reduce bycatch of coastal common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in artisanal fisheries of the subtropical western South Atlantic

J. C. Di Tullio1,2,*, P. F. Fruet1,2, E. R. Secchi1,2

1Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação da Megafauna Marinha (ECOMEGA), Instituto de Oceanografia, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Caixa Postal 474, 96201-900 Rio Grande, RS, Brazil
2Museu Oceanográfico ‘Prof. Eliézer de C. Rios’, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande, Caixa Postal 379, 96200-970 Rio Grande, RS, Brazil
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Many anthropogenic actions have an impact on coastal dolphins, with bycatch being one of the main threats. We describe the distribution patterns of common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus and periods of higher entanglement risk by the artisanal gillnet fishery in the Patos Lagoon estuary and along the adjacent coast of southern Brazil. A total of 136 dolphin groups and 187 gillnets were encountered in 69 surveys conducted between September 2006 and July 2009. Data were analyzed in relation to environmental, spatial and temporal variables using generalized additive models and a spatially adaptive local smoothing algorithm for model selection. In both areas, dolphin densities increased as distance to the estuary mouth decreased. For the estuary area, water salinity and temperature influenced dolphin distribution. Along the adjacent coast, dolphin densities were higher with distance to shore as well as in the north area during the warm period. Patterns of dolphin distribution were probably a response to the presence of preferred prey or avoidance of human-related disturbance. Kernel density showed that fishing effort was distributed along the entire surveyed area inside the estuary, while along the adjacent coast it was higher in the south compared to the north area in the warm period. The overlap between gillnets and dolphins increased considerably from the cold (33.8%) to the warm (48.6%) period. Seasonal variation in fishing effort and distribution affect the overlap and the risk of dolphin entanglement. Based on the findings of this study, a fishing exclusion area aimed at reducing bycatch was established by the Brazilian Environmental Agency.


KEY WORDS: Conservation strategies · Artisanal gillnet fisheries · Patos Lagoon estuary · Generalized additive models · Fisheries–dolphin overlap


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Cite this article as: Di Tullio JC, Fruet PF, Secchi ER (2015) Identifying critical areas to reduce bycatch of coastal common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus in artisanal fisheries of the subtropical western South Atlantic. Endang Species Res 29:35-50. https://doi.org/10.3354/esr00698

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