Bottlenose Dolphins and Manatees

Back to Research

Bottlenose Dolphins and Manatees

Bottlenose Dolphins and Manatees

Georgia Aquarium researchers have participated in health and environmental assessments of marine mammals as well as in-depth research into the immune functions of these animals.

Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and West Indian manatees (Trichechus manatus) are two common marine mammals found along the Southeastern United States, extending into the Caribbean. Georgia Aquarium has partnered with institutions including Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute at Florida Atlantic University, the University of Miami and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to study the health and environmental risk of bottlenose dolphins along the southern Florida coast as well as in South Carolina. Biological samples collected during these assessments are used to better understand how dolphins are able to respond to environmental dangers like pollution, infectious diseases and entanglement in marine debris. Similar assessments have been performed on manatees in the Caribbean, including Puerto Rico and Costa Rica, with partners like Inter American University of Puerto Rico’s Manatee Conservation Center and Sea to Shore Alliance.

The state of Georgia also has its own population of dolphins and a newly discovered population of manatees near Cumberland Island.  The Aquarium supports a program led by the Georgia Dolphin Ecology Program that uses photo identification to track the resident dolphin population in Georgia and the Aquarium is collaborating with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources and Sea to Shore Alliance to conduct the first ever comprehensive study of Georgia’s manatees.

Hollings Marine Laboratory
Caribbean Stranding Network
American University of Puerto Rico 
Georgia Department of Environmental Protection

Conservation Field Station

Learn more about dolphins in our Animal Guide