Bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) strandings in South Carolina, 1992.1996


McFee, Wayne E., and Sally R. Hopkins-Murphy
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From 1992 to 1996, 153 bottlenose dolphin stranded in South Carolina, accounting for 73% of all marine mammal strandings during this period. The objectives of our study were to evaluate data from these strandings to determine 1) annual trends in strandings, 2) seasonal and spatial distribution trends, 3) life history parameters such as sex ratio and age classes, 3) seasonal trends in reproduction, and 4) the extent to which humans have played a role in causing these strandings (human interactions). The results showed that 49% of the bottlenose dolphin strandings occurred between April and July; the greatest number of strandings occurred in July (n=22). There was a significant seasonal increase in the distribution of bottlenose dolphin strandings in the northern portion of the state from November to March. Bottlenose dolphin neonates stranded in every month of the year, except March and October, and represented 19.6% of the total number of strandings with known length (n=138). Fifty-five percent (n=15) of bottlenose dolphin neonatal strandings occurred between May and July. Bottlenose dolphins determined to have died as the result of human interaction accounted for 23.1% of the total number of bottlenose dolphin strandings (excluding those for which a determination could not be made). Incidents of bottlenose dolphin entanglements in nets accounted for 16 of these cases.