The objective of this study is to assess Tursiops truncatus truncatus (Common Bottlenose Dolphin) group behavior as a function of spatial, temporal, and vessel proximity variables within the Galveston—Port Bolivar ferry lane, in lower Galveston Bay, TX. This area is subjected to vessel traffic entering the Houston, Texas City, and Galveston ship channels and at risk for environmental accidents. We used the Galveston—Port Bolivar ferries as a platform of opportunity to observe group behavior within the ferry lane. We conducted 1412 hours of observation between 1 June and 30 November 2013 and then utilized canonical correspondence analysis to evaluate behavioral state as a function of spatial, temporal, and vessel-proximity variables. Principal response curve (PRC) analysis showed significant variation in behavioral states over time in the Bolivar and Galveston zones as compared to the passage zone. Chi-square goodness-of-fit tests showed significant deviations from expected behavior observation across zone and time block. These findings demonstrate finescale behavioral variability in an area of high anthropogenic activity.
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Vol. 15 • No. 4