Monthly field surveys were conducted between August 2010 and July 2015 to explore seasonal group characteristics and occurrence patterns of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) in Xiamen Bay, China. Dolphins formed larger groups in winter and spring (dry seasons) than in summer and autumn (wet seasons; U = 1,564.00, P < 0.001). Sighting encounter rates were higher during the wet season than during the dry season (U = 181.00, P < 0.001), while individual encounter rates were not significantly different between seasons (F = 0.494, d.f = 3, P = 0.688). Dolphin sightings and the foraging events were mainly found in inner harbors (Western Harbour and Tongan Bay) during the dry seasons and in peripheral areas (Jiulong River Estuary, Wuyu, and Dadeng-Xiaodeng) during the wet seasons. Seasonal occurrence patterns may be associated with the seasonal prey shifts between these different environments.
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Vol. 97 • No. 4