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Tourists, Take Care of our Dolphins Please

Watch out for tourists! Current impact of nature-based activities in coastal dolphin populations in southern Kenya, a study on dolphin watching by Dr Sergi Perez

Please be careful when you go dolphin watching in Kenya. You could be chasing them away, unintentionally.

Dr Sergi Perez with Watamu Marine Association and the Kenya Marine Mammal Network following his 2016 PhD thesis produced a paper in "Effects of nature-based tourism and environmental drivers on the demography of a small dolphin population" This indicated in the Kisite- Mpunguti Marine Protected Area populations of dolphin exposure to tourism (60,000 visitors per year)increased the probability of them seasonally emigrating from the study area. The conclusion therefore is that anthropogenic (human) activities, including dolphin watching have a negative effect on dolphin populations. There is a clear need therefore to address this on an enforcement of guidelines level.

For more information on dolphin studies please see Effects of nature-based tourism and environmental drivers on the demography of a small dolphin population

And for the scientists among you - "Many marine top predators are experiencing significant declines due to anthropogenic impacts, and therefore reliable monitoring is essential to understand their population dynamics. We used Pollock's robust design capture?recapture modelling to assess the influence of oceanographic variables, artisanal fisheries and human disturbance on several demographic parameters (abundance, temporary emigration and survival) of the Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops aduncus), using long-term data on marked individuals from East Africa. Photo-identification data was collected over 551 boat-based surveys between 2006 and 2009, with 137 individuals identified. Our best fitting model indicated that exposure to tourism (represented by the number of tourist boats) increased the probability of dolphins seasonally emigrating from the study area. The return rate of temporary emigrants was negatively linked to the seasonal sea surface temperature, probably associated with food availability. That model supported the existence of heterogeneity in annual local survival estimates, with transient dolphins showing a lower value than resident individuals (0.78 and 0.98, respectively). Furthermore, abundance estimates showed a small population size ranging from 19 individuals (95% CI: 11?33) to a maximum of 104 dolphins (95% CI: 78?139). This small population, together with their high site fidelity and coastal distribution, might be particularly vulnerable to human disturbances. This study highlights the influence of environmental and anthropogenic factors on dolphin demography and population dynamics and the need to integrate these drivers to provide robust evidences for conservation stakeholders in an adaptive management framework"

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