The exponential growth of the human population and its increasing industrial development often involve large scale modifications of the environment. In the marine context, coastal urbanisation and harbour expansion to accommodate the rising levels of shipping and offshore energy exploitation require dredging to modify the shoreline and sea floor. While the consequences of dredging on invertebrates and fish are relatively well documented, no study has robustly tested the effects on large marine vertebrates. We monitored the attendance of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) to a recently established urbanised foraging patch, Aberdeen harbour (Scotland), and modelled the effect of dredging operations on site usage. We found that higher intensities of dredging caused the dolphins to spend less time in the harbour, despite high baseline levels of disturbance and the importance of the area as a foraging patch.
- bottle-nosed dolphins
- conservation of natural resources
- feeding behavior
- Tursiops truncatus