Dinis, A., Molina, C., Tobena, M., Sambolino, A., Hartman, K., Fernandez, M., Magalhães, S., dos Santos, R.P., Ritter, F., Martin, V., de Soto, N.A. & Alves, F. (2021) Large-scale movements of common bottlenose dolphins in the Atlantic: dolphins with an international courtyard.PeerJ, 9, e11069. DOI:10.7717/peerj.11069 (IF2020 2,984; Q1 Multidisciplinary Sciences)
Wide-ranging connectivity patterns of common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) are generally poorly known worldwide and more so within the oceanic archipelagos of Macaronesia in the North East (NE) Atlantic. This study aimed to identify long-range movements between the archipelagos of Macaronesia that lie between 500 and 1,500 km apart, and between Madeira archipelago and the Portuguese continental shelf, through the compilation and comparison of bottlenose dolphin’s photo-identification catalogues from different regions: one from Madeira (n = 363 individuals), two from different areas in the Azores (n = 495 and 176), and four from different islands of the Canary Islands (n = 182, 110, 142 and 281), summing up 1791 photographs. An additional comparison was made between the Madeira catalogue and one catalogue from Sagres, on the southwest tip of the Iberian Peninsula (n = 359). Results showed 26 individual matches, mostly between Madeira and the Canary Islands (n = 23), and between Azores and Madeira (n = 3). No matches were found between the Canary Islands and the Azores, nor between Madeira and Sagres. There were no individuals identified in all three archipelagos. The minimum time recorded between sightings in two different archipelagos (≈ 460 km apart) was 62 days. Association patterns revealed that the individuals moving between archipelagos were connected to resident, migrant and transient individuals in Madeira. The higher number of individuals that were re-sighted between Madeira and the Canary Islands can be explained by the relative proximity of these two archipelagos. This study shows the first inter-archipelago movements of bottlenose dolphins in the Macaronesia region, emphasizing the high mobility of this species and supporting the high gene flow described for oceanic dolphins inhabiting the North Atlantic. The dynamics of these long-range movements strongly denotes the need to review marine protected areas established for this species in each archipelago, calling for joint resolutions from three autonomous regions belonging to two EU countries.