The Indo-Pacific humpback dolphin (IPHD, Sousa chinensis) is a coastal species inhabiting tropical and warm-temperate waters. The presence of this vulnerable dolphin was recently discovered in shallow waters southwest of Hainan Island, China. The influence of the acoustic habitat on the distribution and behavior of IPHD was investigated using an array of passive acoustic platforms (n = 6) that spanned more than 100 km of coastline during a 75-day monitoring period. Its presence was assessed within 19 215 five-min recordings by classifying echolocation clicks using machine learning techniques. Spectrogram analysis was applied to further investigate the acoustic behavior of IPHD and to identify other prominent sound sources. The variation in the ambient noise levels was also measured to describe the spatiotemporal patterns of the acoustic habitat among the different sampling sites. Social and feeding sounds of IPHD (whistles and click-series of pulsed sounds) were identified together with other biological sources (finless porpoise, soniferous fishes, and snapping shrimps) and anthropogenic activities (ship noise, explosions, and sonars). Distribution, acoustic behavior, and habitat use of this nearshore dolphin species were strongly influenced by the abundance of soniferous fishes, and under similar conditions, the species was more acoustically active in locations with lower noise levels.

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