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Conducting photo-identification studies in the outer firth
"Sooty" (ID#015) photographed in 2009.
A breaching bottlenose dolphin in Cullen Bay.
The CRRU research team at work.
Bottlenose dolphin studies
With support from Care for the Wild International and a network of international supporters and volunteers, the CRRU directs a rigorous research programme studying the ecology of the 200 or so bottlenose dolphins that occur along the east coast of Scotland. The animals using this region have been studied by the CRRU team for 17 years now and the charity maintains a comprehensive photo-ID archive which has recently been made available online at http://www.crru.org.uk/bottlenose_archive.asp.
Much of the research work is based upon repeat observations of individually-recognisable dolphins, providing data for a range of long-term and ongoing studies on the abundance, site fidelity, home range, social structure and behaviour of this population. Driven by conservation initiatives, the long-term research objectives of the CRRU scientists form part of an on-going and collaborative research effort which aims to:
- heighten our current knowledge of the distribution and general ecology of these animals in the Moray Firth
- identify key areas used by these dolphins in this area of the firth and assess whether these change seasonally or from one year to the next
- study the long-term population dynamics of this bottlenose community
- provide information essential for the development and implementation of effective conservation strategies to protect these animals and their habitats.
As long-lived mammals with low reproductive rates, clear assessments of the status of these animals require long-term and ongoing research studies, and in this respect the current objectives of the CRRU’s research activities form part of an annual monitoring program.
Ongoing studies will allow the CRRU to focus conservation measures in relation to human activities in this area (e.g. by-catch reduction, disturbance by shipping, tourism etc); identify times and areas of special significance in the life cycle of these animals, such as breeding periods and nursery areas for example; and to measure the effectiveness of current management and action plans, assisting in their future development.
Current studies aim to achieve additional coverage of the outer Moray Firth region, integrating broader scale survey data and directing more detailed work in focal areas of particular interest or concern. These objectives will be fundamental to local management directives for the protection of this and other UK coastal cetacean communities.
For a full publication list of research papers and reports by the CRRU, click HERE.
View a short film clip of the CRRU research team in action on the BBC's One Show in Nov 2012: