Two Decades of Coastal Dolphin Population Surveys in Israel, Eastern Mediterranean

Ori Galili, Oz Goffman, Mia Roditi-Elasar, Yaly Mevorach, Eyal Bigal, Yotam Zuriel, Yaron Haitovich, Nir Hadar, Meytal Markovich, Dror Vardimon, Dana Reininger, Shlomi Marco, Danny Morick, Eliana Ratner, Dan Tchernov, Aviad Scheinin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Along the Mediterranean coast of Israel, two near-shore dolphin species are prevalent; Tursiops truncatus (least concern, IUCN) and Delphinus delphis (endangered, IUCN). Ship-board surveys and sporadic sightings over the last two decades have shown that the two differ in distribution—T. truncatus is found along the entire coast and D. delphis only in the south. The environmental and anthropological factors affecting these species’ spatial distribution and determining their habitat preferences in this area are largely unknown. This work is a first attempt at summarizing 20 years of observations and studying habitat preferences for both species, by use of Generalized Additive Models. T. truncatus was found to be present in all areas of the continental shelf where survey effort coverage was sufficient, with a high affinity towards bottom trawlers. Model results showed D. delphis distribution to be associated to (shallow) water depths, though the factors driving their limited latitudinal distribution currently remain unknown. It is evident that T. truncatus and D. delphis are present in segregated areas of the Israeli continental shelf and T. truncatus currently sustains a delicate balance with continuously shifting human activities, while the drivers of D. delphis distribution are more specified, yet still not fully understood.

Original languageEnglish
Article number328
Issue number2
StatePublished - 17 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The analysis component of this research was funded by the Morris Kahn Marine Research Station, University of Haifa and the Department of Marine Biology as part of a long-term monitoring study of the cetacean species along the Israeli coastline. This research was also partially funded by the Ministry of Energy in Israel. This research was also partially funded by the Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), grant number 06/2019/LB 6401 A4. A large portion of the surveys were sponsored by Sea Gal sailing club, Sailor sailing club, U-Boat boating club, Tashoot sailing club and other privately owned yachts.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 by the authors.


  • conservation
  • Delphinus delphis
  • distribution
  • ecology
  • Generalized Additive Model
  • habitat modeling
  • Israel
  • Mediterranean Sea
  • Tursiops truncatus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology (all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (all)


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