Date of Award

Fall 1999

Document Type

Legacy Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)


Marine Science


College of Science

First Advisor

Robert F. Young


Although the role of marine mammals as apex predators in open ocean ecosystems is well documented, little is known about their impact on smaller systems. In an effort to estimate the role of Bottlenose Dolphins in a coastal marsh creek system, population estimates have been determined using mark-recapture techniques. Daily and seasonal usage patterns have been estimated from dorsal fin photo-ID surveys conducted between September 1997 and September 1999. The majority of events have found that dolphins remain within the North Inlet marsh system throughout a tidal cycle, although some interaction occurs with dolphins in neighboring Winyah Bay. Most sightings include dolphins that are consistent daily residents within the limits of a specific season. From this two-year study, five dolphins have been identified throughout all seasons in the study site. A Schnabel population estimate reports a standing population between 39 and 61 dolphins over the two-year study between Winyah Bay and North Inlet near Georgetown, SC. Creek use patterns at low tide oscillate from a summer/autumn pattern to a winter/spring pattern with some variation in the months of May and November.