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Seabird Interactions with Dolphins and Tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific

David W. K. Au and Robert L. Pitman
The Condor
Vol. 88, No. 3 (Aug., 1986), pp. 304-317
DOI: 10.2307/1368877
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1368877
Page Count: 14
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Seabird Interactions with Dolphins and Tuna in the Eastern Tropical Pacific
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Abstract

Bird flocks associated with dolphins in the eastern tropical Pacific are described from observations obtained during eight cruises that took place from January to March of 1976, 1977, 1979, and 1980. In the northern tropical waters between latitudes 5°N and 30°N, 43% to 53% of bird flocks co-occurred with dolphins. In equatorial and southern subtropical waters between latitudes 5°N to 12°S and in the central Pacific less than 8% of the flocks were associated with dolphins. In northern tropical waters about 70% of dolphin schools associated with flocks were composed of spotted or spotted plus spinner dolphins; conversely, 59% of spotted dolphin and 96% of spotted plus spinner dolphin schools co-occurred with bird flocks. Most large schools of these dolphins were associated with birds, and the number and diversity of bird species increased with dolphin school size. The average species composition of birds in dolphin-associated flocks of northern tropical waters was: boobies 41.7%, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters (Puffinus pacificus) 31.4%, jaegers 12.8%, Sooty Terns (Sterna fuscata) 6%, frigatebirds 3.6%, and others 4.5%. Positive statistical associations were found among these bird species, which are explained by common attraction to food made available by feeding yellowfin tuna. In the southern latitudes and in the central Pacific, flocks were dominated by Sooty Terns, and few flocks were associated with dolphins. These flocks appeared to be associated with skipjack rather than yellowfin tuna.

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