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SEQUENTIAL FORAGING BEHAVIOUR OF BOTTLENOSE DOLPHINS, TURSIOPS TRUNCATUS, IN SARASOTA BAY, FL

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Detailed analyses of dolphin foraging behaviour have typically been difficult due to researchers' inability to observe entire foraging sequences. Using a new observational tool I was able to observe sequences of behaviours leading to successful prey captures, including behaviours not previously described in Sarasota Bay dolphins. I defined a set of specific foraging behaviours and demonstrated their position in successful sequences by analyzing the conditional probability of their occurrence based the occurrence of a capture. The sequences of behaviours dolphins used were not deterministic, and individual dolphins displayed different behavioural repertoires. Foraging behaviours occurred at rates of up to 0.5 per minute during general activity categories commonly used in odontocete research, and the current results could assist in the interpretation of these activities.

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