Date of Award

Spring 2010

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Philip Whalen


Bottlenose dolphins are intelligent marine mammals and exhibit complex feeding behaviors, including strand-feeding which takes place in salt marshes in Bull Creek, South Carolina. Strand-feeding was observed from March-September 2009 on 58 research days. Dolphins were identified through photo-identification and their association patterns were determined. It was found that strand-feeding dolphins usually have a high degree of association with each other. Dorsal fin shapes of individuals in the present study were compared to those identified in a prior study by Petricig in 1988-1993. Two individuals were matched; both of these dolphins are currently strand-feeders. One dolphin was a strand-feeder in the prior study; the other dolphin was a transient dolphin. The transition from a transient dolphin to becoming a strand-feeder indicates that horizontal learning is possible with strand-feeding behavior. This research should be used to implement further conservation efforts under the guidance of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to protect the natural habitat of these strand-feeding bottlenose dolphins.