Thursday, 31 January 2013

COTF4: Genetic Analysis of Bottlenose Dolphins

Research Vessel Celtic Explorer is a great platform to get information on offshore animals for which there are little studies. Bottlenose dolphins are well studied in inshore waters of Europe were there can be easily studied on day trips. There is a knowledge gap on the offshore dolphins, even though thousands of animals are thought to inhabit offshore areas in particular the shelf edge (according to previous ship and aerial surveys).

I am studying bottlenose dolphin population genetics in the North East Atlantic (from Scotland to the Azores) using biopsies and samples from stranded animals which I get from different organizations and institutes across Europe (including GMIT and IWDG) which I thank a lot for their collaboration.

Locations of samples used in the study (162 biopsies and 242 stranded animals)

The Cetaceans on the Frontier survey is an unique opportunity to get samples from offshore bottlenose dolphins. Last year I included the first biopsy sample of bottlenose dolphins from European offshore waters in my analyses. On this trip I realized how difficult it must have been to get this sample, because of the often high swell of the offshore waters, and the evasive behaviour of the offshore bottlenose who are powerful and fast moving.

My genetic analyses are still on-going, but preliminary results show that inshore bottlenose dolphins are genetically distinct from offshore bottlenose dolphins. Last year COTF biopsy sample fits in the same group as animals that were biopsied in the Azores and some of the stranded animals from Ireland to Spain, which we consider as the “offshore” group.

I hope that we will encounter more bottlenose dolphins in the following days, and fingers crossed that the weather will be good enough for RIB launches, to allow us collect more biopsies.

Marie Louis
(PhD student, University of la Rochelle, CEBC-CNRS, GECC)

No comments:

Post a Comment