Abundance, distribution, and ranging patterns of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the western Atlantic Ocean are not well understood. As part of an initial attempt to understand their ecology and social system, I examined the ranging patterns of coastal resident dolphins in South Carolina. From October 1994 through December 1998, I conducted 209 surveys in Calibogue Sound and adjoining coastal waters. Individual dolphins were identified by distinctive fin characteristics and categorized as resident or transient inhabitants based on resighting patterns. Home range boundaries and core use areas were defined for 20 resident dolphins. Resident dolphins occurred in inshore waters, were moderately mobile, exhibited strong site-fidelity, and showed distinct patterns of core use within their home ranges. Ranging patterns exhibited geographic partitioning along environmental and social parameters within the resident population.
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