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Seabird and dolphin associations: do seabirds benefit from feeding in association with dusky dolphins in Patagonia?

  • Mariana Degrati (a1) (a2), Silvana L. Dans (a1) (a2), Griselda V. Garaffo (a3) and Enrique A. Crespo (a1) (a2)


The objective of this study was to describe associations between several species of seabirds and dusky dolphins. We investigated during what dolphin activities seabirds were most commonly associated, and the size of flock in relation to the number of dolphins in a group. Since both seabirds and dolphins may display different feeding strategies, we also investigated if benefits differed among seabird species. Data were collected in Golfo Nuevo (42°20′S65°00′W) on-board a research vessel between 2001 and 2008. A total of 224 mixed groups of seabirds were encountered during this study. The seabird–dolphin associations were mainly observed during dusky dolphin surface feeding. Shearwaters and kelp gulls were mainly observed in flocks that were associated with dolphins, while Magellanic penguins and cormorants were mainly observed without dolphins. Seabirds may be conditioned to the foraging strategy of dolphins, since birds are associated with dolphins only during dolphin surface feeding. This association probably helped seabirds to find prey, but there were no obvious benefits to dolphins.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: M. Degrati, Centro Nacional Patagónico (CONICET), Bvd. Brown 2915 (9120) Puerto Madryn, Chubut, Argentina email:


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Seabird and dolphin associations: do seabirds benefit from feeding in association with dusky dolphins in Patagonia?

  • Mariana Degrati (a1) (a2), Silvana L. Dans (a1) (a2), Griselda V. Garaffo (a3) and Enrique A. Crespo (a1) (a2)


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