Assessments of bottlenose dolphin stocks rely on current information about the distribution and abundance of specific populations. We partnered with two ecotourism dolphin watch businesses to investigate bottlenose dolphins along the northern South Carolina coast. The temporal and spatial distribution of dolphins was examined by comparing dorsal fin images from research-based surveys with photo-identification efforts from commercial dolphin watch groups. Matches between survey locations and times revealed patterns of seasonal residency, potential migratory dispersal between seasons, and variable patterns for home range size. An enhanced understanding of the structure of local populations will contribute to the management of local fisheries, ecotour operations, and coastal ocean health.



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