Galveston Bay, Texas is a busy place.  It houses the sixth largest port and the second largest petro-chemical compound in the world, as well as commercial and recreational fisheries.  The bottlenose dolphins that inhabit this estuary are exposed to continued ship traffic, trawling fisheries, dredging operations, runoff from the Houston metro area, and salinity fluctuations.  However, Galveston Bay is also a productive estuary and prey availability may outweigh facing these risks.  The Galveston Bay Dolphin Research Program (GDRP) studies the dolphins that inhabit upper Galveston Bay and tackles questions on how they survive in their challenging environment.

The GDRP was formed in 2014 as a partnership between the Galveston Bay Foundation and the Environmental Institute of Houston at the University of Houston Clear Lake.  We came together to develop a long-term research program to study and monitor the bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) inhabiting Galveston Bay. Parallel with the research, we have developed outreach and education initiatives including a Field Assistant Volunteer Program that enables citizens to form an integral part of the field research crew.


Select Publications, Reports and Presentations

Mintzer, VJ; Fazioli, K. Salinity and water temperature as predictors of bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops Truncatus) encounter rates in Upper Galveston Bay TX. 2021. Frontiers in Marine Science.

Fazioli, K; Mintzer, VJ. 2020. Short-term effects of Hurricane Harvey on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in upper Galveston Bay, TX. Estuaries and Coasts.

Fazioli, K., Mintzer, V., and Guillen, G. 2020. Monitoring bottlenose dolphins in Galveston Bay, Texas. Galveston Bay Estuary Program, State of the Bay Symposium, Galveston, TX.

Fazioli, K., Mintzer, V., and Guillen, G. 2019. In the path of floodwaters: short-term effects of Hurricane Harvey on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in upper Galveston Bay, Texas. World Marine Mammal Conference, Barcelona, Spain.

Mintzer, V., Fazioli, K., and Guillen, G. 2018. Short-term effects of Hurricane Harvey on dolphins in the upper Galveston Bay Estuary. 9th National Summit on Coastal and Estuarine Restoration and Management, Long Beach, CA.

Mintzer, VJ; Fazioli, K. 2018. Dolphins after Hurricane Harvey: Evaluating the impacts of water quality changes. Texas Living Waters Project Blog. Available at

Fazioli, K., Mintzer, V., and Guillen, G. 2017. Site fidelity of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in a highly-industrialized estuary. Society for Marine Mammalogy, 22nd Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, Halifax, NS, Canada.

Mintzer, VJ; Fazioli, F. 2017. Evaluating the Impacts of Hurricane Harvey on the Dolphins of Galveston Bay.  Available at

Fazioli, K., Mintzer, V., Guillen, G., and Loe, S. 2016. Texas' estuarine bottlenose dolphins: addressing knowledge gaps in Galveston Bay. In Restore America's Estuaries, New Orleans, LA.

Fazioli, K., Mintzer, V., and Guillen, G. 2015. An apparent increase in bottlenose dolphins in upper Galveston Bay: city slickers or tourists? Gulf of Mexico Marine Mammal Research and Monitoring Meeting, New Orleans, LA.

Fazioli, K., Mintzer, V., and Guillen, G. 2015. Bottlenose dolphin activity in a highly industrialized region of Galveston Bay, Texas. Society for Marine Mammalogy, 21st Biennial Conference on the Biology of Marine Mammals, San Francisco, CA.