IJMS Editor's Choice – Listening to fish to map dolphin feeding

The latest Editor’s Choice article from the ICES Journal of Marine Science is now available. Read about how the noises made by fish can help identify the foraging habitat of the dolphins that prey on them in the Chinese Pearl River Estuary. 
Published: 31 October 2017

​​​​​​​Large-scale developments, such as offshore wind turbine farms, oil platforms, and bridges often occur in areas that overlap ecologically important habitats for sensitive marine life.

Marine mammals make up an important component of a region’s ecological system, and the acoustic overlap between coastal construction activities and the habitat of such animals is an international concern. A mounting body of evidence shows habitat use changes as a key concern among stakeholders, with much data showing these changes (such as habitat exclusions from important foraging grounds) during or after construction. Understanding where important foraging habitats may be before or during the environmental impact assessment phase of future developments is thus fundamental for the conservation of marine mammals.

The study in this paper focuses on Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE) in China, utilizing passive acoustic monitoring to eavesdrop on chorusing fish, a key prey item of the dolphins. Five listening stations consisting of autonomous acoustic recorders were set up within the estuary, continuously recording the underwater soundscape. Doing so revealed several different fish chorus-types that show associations of co-existing fish species (assemblages) are not consistent around the estuary. This new data provides the first baseline record for noisy fish, as a main ​​​​​​prey item for the dolphins, in the PRE. It thus forms a basis for identifying potentially important foraging habitats which, after being overlaid with acoustic detections of foraging dolphins, should be afforded the highest priority for protection.​​

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​Paper title: Investigating the spatiotemporal variation of fish choruses to help identify important foraging habitat for Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins, Sousa chinensis​
Authors: ​Matthew K. Pine, Ding Wang, Lindsay Porter, Kexiong Wang​​
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IJMS Editor's Choice – Listening to fish to map dolphin feeding

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