FORT LAUDERDALE-DAVIE, Fla. - The old saying goes: "Don't judge a book by its cover." Well, the same could be said about bottlenose dolphins.
Bottlenose dolphins are the most common and well-known of their kind famous in TV and movies. And while one bottlenose dolphin might look similar to another, when you take a closer look at them (really close, as in genetically,) there are differences. In fact, a recently published study in the Journal of Heredity (Vol. 104, pp 765-778) focused on groups of these animals that live in specific areas along the eastern seaboard of the United States, comparing them to other bottlenose dolphins that live offshore, in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean.
Specifically, the study looked at bottlenose dolphins that lived within the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) on Florida's east coast. The IRL runs from the Jupiter Inlet at the south to the Ponce de Leon Inlet to the north. Those animals were studied from a habitat and behavioral perspective as well as genetically, with some surprising results.
"It certainly took a while for the research to be conducted, data compiled and the findings to be confirmed and published, but it was worth the wait," said Jose Lopez, Ph.D., a professor at Nova Southeastern University's Oceanographic Center who was with FAU when the study began. "This was truly a collaborative effort, with experts from across the globe participating and what we found was really fascinating."
The nearly decade-long study was a team effort that involved Nova Southeastern University, Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (HBOI,) the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Cornell University; National Institutes of Health; and the University of Durham in England.
"Overall, this highly collaborative study now establishes a genetic baseline for the IRL dolphin population," explained Steve McCulloch, HBOI MM
|Contact: Joe Donzelli|
Nova Southeastern University