The scientific research carried out by the MMCS was conducted on two types of dolphins present on the west coast of Mauritius, the spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostris) and the larger Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops aduncus).
The aim of this study was to allow the sustainable management of the dolphin watching industry and increase our knowledge on the dolphins living on the west coast. This study was divided into three main focus areas:

  • group dynamics and population
  • general ecology and
  • behaviour when subjected to dolphin watching boats

The population study allowed us to calculate the number of individuals for each species; the birth and death rates and peak reproduction periods in order to determine whether the population is increasing or decreasing, the frequency at which each individual is present on our coasts etc. These data were collected through a genetic study (via skin samples) as well as by the creation of a photo identification catalogue (photographing the dorsal fin for individual recognition from various visible marks and scars).

The ecology study allowed us to determine the most visited zones and for which activity they are used (eg. one bay for resting, another one for playing).  The study also allowed us to find the link between environmental conditions of these zones (depth, clarity and temperature) and their use by the dolphins.

The behavioural study focused on the impact of dolphin watching boats, if any. This included whether boats and swimmers affected presence, number or behaviour of the animals. These data were collected through observation of the dolphins before, during and after the presence of boats, for instance did the duration of the apnea (dive duration) increase/decrease depending on the number of boats and swimmers, did the animals change speed, etc.?