To obtain critical information on distribution and abundance of Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins (Sousa chinensis) residing in the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), systematic line-transect surveys and photo-identification studies were conducted in the eastern and western sections of the estuary in 2005–2006 and 2007–2008, respectively. Dolphins in the eastern section occurred throughout Lingding Bay, whereas their distribution in the western section extended from the mouth of Modaomen to the channel between Shangchuan and Xiachuan islands. Variations in dolphin distribution during the wet and dry seasons were evident and probably associated with movements of their prey species. Photo-identification of individuals confirmed exchange of at least some individuals between the western and eastern sections of PRE, and thus dolphins from both areas almost certainly comprise a single population. Using line-transect analysis, the total population size of the PRE humpback dolphins was estimated to be 2555 during the wet season and 2517 during the dry season. However, these should be considered preliminary as the coefficients of variation in some survey areas were high. Further studies should focus on refining these estimates and working towards understanding the western boundary of the PRE population.
©2010 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York