We believe that to protect whales and dolphins, we must first understand whales and dolphins. As part of this philosophy, DPMMR operates our Photo ID program which seeks to study our local populations of bottlenose dolphins.
Authorized by the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, our team conducts periodic surveys of the local wild dolphin population. On survey, researchers travel by boat throughout the waters of the Upper Keys pausing to photograph the dorsal fins of any dolphins that transect the survey route. The photographs are then analyzed to identify each individual animal encountered by the unique patterns and shape of their dorsal fins.
The data gained from these surveys allows our research team to characterize the health, behavior, biology, and ecology of our local dolphin population - important information that helps resource managers protect wild dolphins throughout the Florida Keys. What's more, these surveys allow our team to keep an active surveillance of the wild dolphin population and identify anthropogenic stressors (e.g. entanglement in fishing gear, boat strikes) and monitor for emerging infectious diseases.
To date, hundreds of individual dolphins have been identified through this program and data on site fidelity, travel patterns, social structures, and other topics of interest are under review for future publication. Our teams actively collaborate with other researchers to better understand how the dolphins are using this area so that we can better protect the resources that dolphins depend on.
It is our hope that our Photo Identification efforts will continue aiding in local marine mammal conservation efforts.
Sponsor A Wild Dolphin
Use of all photo-id images authorized by National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) LOC #21556 issued to Stephen McCulloch (2018).
We believe that our Photo ID studies will lead to future conservation efforts needed to conserve the Florida Keys ecosystem and the Whales & Dolphins that call these waters home. If you believe in the importance of these studies as well, we'd love to invite you to sponsor a photo ID survey.
Your sponsorship will provide the fuel and supplies necessary to complete a full 8-hour survey of the Upper Keys and an additional 8-hours of post-survey data analysis. To show our gratitude for sponsoring one of our surveys, one of our researchers will provide you with a detailed summary of the survey once back to shore.
Ultimately, the more surveys we can conduct, the more data we gain and the quicker we can act on conserving local whales & dolphins.