Port Phillip Bay Burrunan dolphin demographics

Project Burrunan - Melbourne cityscape

Port Phillip Bay Burrunan dolphin demographics

Investigating population size, structure and distribution of the Port Phillip Bay Burrunan dolphin to determine population viability and factors influencing spatial use of the Bay.


The Port Phillip Bay population comprise a small, genetically distinct and isolated population of approximately 120 individuals. Individuals are classified as resident to Port Phillip Bay as they are frequently sighted during dedicated/year-round seasonal boat-based surveys conducted by the MMF. The population is based on natal philopatry, whereby both males and females remain within their natal range through adulthood. This may have important consequences on inbreeding risk due to the isolated and closed nature of the population with very little emigration based on genetic evidence (Charlton-Robb et al. 2015). Using photographic fin identification data in conjunction with genetic sampling this research will be used to determine population viability through analysing age classes, sex ratio and to establish calving rates to measure population stability. The seasonal/year-round survey design will further allow MMF researchers to investigate the distribution and range use of Port Phillip Bay to determine possible drivers of distribution.


  1. Robust abundance estimate for PPB burrunan dolphins using capture-recpature methods applied to photographic fin identification data
  2. Estimate demographic parameters
  3. Explore spatial distribution and subsequent drivers

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