Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (2010)

DOI: 10.1017/s0025315409991226


Knowledge about harbour porpoise and bottlenose dolphin occurrence in Cardigan Bay Special Area of Conservation (SAC), Wales, is limited to daylight hours during summer, when conditions are suitable for traditional visual surveys. T-PODs are autonomous instruments programmed to log time-cues of species-specific echolocation signals for long periods of time. Here we investigated bottlenose dolphin and harbour porpoise habitat use and partitioning by deploying ten calibrated T-PODs in Cardigan Bay SAC for one year. The T-PODs detected both species all year round with a peak of detections in April–October for dolphins and in October–March for porpoise, revealing a previously unknown importance of the place to harbour porpoise during winter. Though the two species are sympatric, simultaneous detections of both species were rare and indication of temporal habitat partitioning between the two species in some parts of the SAC was observed. The one location where simultaneous detections were not as rare was close to the stretch of shoreline where stranding of porpoises killed by dolphins are most common, suggesting that the observed spatiotemporal overlap leads to inter-specific interactions, in some cases fatal for the porpoise.