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Open AccessArticle

Are Land Based Surveys a Useful Tool for Managing Marine Species of Coastal Protected Areas?

Department of Life Science and Systems Biology, University of Torino, Via Accademia Albertina 13, 10123 Torino, Italy
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2013, 5(1), 15-25;
Received: 7 December 2012 / Accepted: 25 December 2012 / Published: 10 January 2013
One goal of the LIFE project “Del.Ta.” (NAT/IT/000163) was the preparation of an Action Plan to protect the bottlenose dolphin community in the Pelagie Archipelago (Sicily, Italy). It stressed the importance of regular monitoring of the spatial and temporal distribution of dolphins in order to evaluate the impact of local activities. This study assesses whether land-based surveys could be an effective alternative to vessel-based surveys. During the summer of 2006, both surveys’ methodologies were used at Lampedusa, with 35 sightings recorded from land and 31 from a boat. Comparison was based on the assessment of the type of information they provided in relation to the presence of the animals and their behavior. Both methodologies were applicable, but there were differences in their requirements, potential information generated, costs, and sensitivity to weather conditions. Vessel-based surveys require well trained observers and enable photo-identification and observation of social interaction and morphology. Animal movements, interactions with anthropogenic elements and group dynamics are better collected from land but spatial data can be documented up to 1 nautical mile from the coast. Weather conditions have a significant platform specific effect on sighting frequencies. The high sighting frequency during land surveys provides support for the development of zero-impact land-based dolphins watching activity. View Full-Text
Keywords: Tursiops truncatus; shore-based survey; vessel survey; distribution Tursiops truncatus; shore-based survey; vessel survey; distribution
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Giacoma, C.; Papale, E.; Azzolin, M. Are Land Based Surveys a Useful Tool for Managing Marine Species of Coastal Protected Areas? Diversity 2013, 5, 15-25.

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