Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program

The Galveston Bay Foundation has partnered with the Environmental Institute of Houston at the University of Houston – Clear Lake (EIH-UHCL)  to create the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program (GDRCP) in Galveston Bay, TX. The primary objectives of the GDRCP are to:

  • Implement a long-term monitoring program for the bottlenose dolphins in Galveston Bay.
  • Conduct research on the ecology and behavior of Galveston Bay dolphins, with a particular focus on the upper Galveston Bay dolphin population.
  • Study human-dolphin interactions in Galveston Bay and their impacts on both dolphins and people.
  • Raise awareness about Galveston Bay dolphins and their habitats in Galveston Bay communities.

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Focus on Upper Galveston Bay and Houston Ship Channel

NMFS Permit #18881

Upper Galveston Bay (UGB) hosts commercial and recreational fisheries, accommodates boat traffic supporting the second-largest petro-chemical compound in the world, receives runoff from over half of Texas’ population, and is subjected to regular dredging operations. Regardless of these high levels of human activity, bottlenose dolphins are regularly seen in UGB, including the Houston Ship Channel (HSC). As habitat degradation continues in these waters, substantial research and conservation efforts are needed to better understand and protect this potentially vulnerable population.

The GDRCP conducts monthly boat-based surveys in UGB. These surveys inform studies on dolphin habitat preferences, seasonal movements, population numbers and survival.  Data shows that some dolphins regularly use UGB habitats over a period of years and are likely long-term residents of Galveston Bay.

Please click on the links below to learn more about our research:

Bottlenose Dolphin Activity in a Highly Industrialized Region of Galveston Bay, Texas

Site fidelity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trucantus) in a highly-industrialized estuary

Evaluating the Impacts of Hurricane Harvey on the Dolphins of Galveston Bay

*The GDRCP was awarded grants from the Gulf of Mexico Alliance and the SeaWorld &Busch Gardens Conservation Fund to conduct additional surveys focused on evaluating the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the UGB dolphin population.

Please contact Dr. Vanessa Mintzer for more information about the Galveston Bay Dolphin Research and Conservation Program.

eih-watermark-logo-darkTo learn more about our partner, EIH, please visit their website or contact:

Kristi Fazioli
Research Associate
Environmental Institute of Houston
University of Houston – Clear Lake

Office – 281-283-3950
Fax – 281-283-3953

Our efforts are part of the Texas Bottlenose Dolphin Research Collaborative a cooperative network of scientists and institutions facilitating the creation of a long-term monitoring program with goals to provide population distribution and abundance estimates, identify natural and human generated risks and establish baseline health parameters for Texas bay, sound, estuary and near-coastal bottlenose dolphins. In addition to the EIH-UHCL and GBF, current collaborators include Baylor UniversityTexas A&M – Galveston, Texas Sealife Center –Corpus Christi, and Texas A&M – Corpus Christi.

A special thanks to our GDRCP sponsors:

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