Hector’s dolphin - abundance and distribution surveys
Since 2012 Proteus and the Cawthron Institute have collaborated on the design and implementation of aerial transect surveys around New Zealand’s South Island to estimate the abundance and distribution of Hector’s dolphin within 20 n.mi. of the coast line, for the Ministry of Primary Industry.
Proteus helped by:
- determining the total level of survey effort required to obtain precise abundance estimates
- allocating survey effort to different strata
- provide input on the field protocols to ensure that the collected data would be statistically robust
- train the field crew on important statistical aspects of distance sampling
- extend existing methods for analysing double-observer distance sampling data
- perform all analyses and interpret the results.
While some aspects of the work is on-going, in 2016 we estimated that there were almost 15,000 Hector’s dolphins, with approximately half the population in areas that had not been extensively surveyed previously.