- The estuaries within the Pearl River Delta are sites for large-scale urban development and offshore construction. These projects have conservation stakeholders calling for more protection for the Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins whose habitat overlaps with current and proposed construction sites.
- Efforts to improve impact assessments are hindered by the lack of baseline data and comprehensive understanding of how often the dolphins are present in areas near or within locations targeted for further development. The Modaomen Estuary within the Pearl River Delta is a good example of this, with little consideration for the dolphins as no data on their diurnal and seasonal occurrences within the estuary exist.
- A passive acoustic monitoring system was deployed over a calendar year from October 2016 to September 2017 to monitor the presence of humpback dolphins in the Modaomen Estuary.
- Results indicated that the estuary is an important area for humpback dolphins, with regular diel rhythms and seasonality in detection rates. For example, higher detections were seen during the wet season than during the dry season. However, there was no significant difference in detection rates between the flood and ebb tides, or between high and low tidal phases.
- Since the Modaomen Estuary is targeted for further development in the near future, these data provide the rationale for resource management and consent processes to consider potential impacts on the dolphins, as well as to aid marine spatial planning and conservation measures.