Bottlenose dolphins in the Netherlands come from two sides: across the North Sea and through the English Channel

Jeroen P. A. Hoekendijk, Mardik F. Leopold, Barbara J. Cheney

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On 19 July 2019 an estimated 20 bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) were observed in the Marsdiep, a tidal inlet connecting the North Sea and the Dutch Wadden Sea, between Den Helder and the island of Texel. Photographs and video recordings were made and nine individuals were matched with known dolphins from the Moray Firth, NE Scotland. These are the first matches of this east coast of Scotland population outside the UK and Ireland. Subsequent observations of individuals from this group show that at least some of the animals have returned to Scottish waters, while others were photographed in Danish waters. Furthermore, we report on a photo identification match of a solitary bottlenose dolphin between France and the Netherlands. These matches suggest that bottlenose dolphins, in the Netherlands, originate from two different genetically distinct populations: ‘Coastal South’ and ‘Coastal North’. This evidence of previously unknown long-range movements may have important implications for the conservation and management of this species in European waters.
Original languageEnglish
Article number0025315421000679
Pages (from-to)853-859
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom
Issue number5
Early online date7 Oct 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bottlenose dolphin
  • cetaceans
  • long-range movement
  • Moray Firth
  • North Sea
  • photo identification
  • the Netherlands


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