Marine traffic is a significant source of disturbance to the bottlenose dolphin population in the Istanbul Strait, Turkey. To determine the importance of this threat, behavioral data together with sighting data of both dolphins and marine vessels were assessed for 2012. The current study suggests that the Istanbul Strait is used mostly as a foraging ground for bottlenose dolphins. Nonetheless, in the same area there is intense marine traffic as well as increase of industrial fishing activities in autumn. The findings of this study indicated that high-speed ferries and high-speed boats were the most significant source of disturbance. Moreover, increased densities of fishing vessels resulted in a drastic decline of dolphin sightings. This study highlights that vessel type, speed, distance, and density have a cumulative negative effect on dolphins. In order to mitigate the impacts of vessels, it is necessary to establish managed areas in the Istanbul Strait. Such proposed areas should limit speed and density of marine traffic and have specific restrictions on vessel routes. We propose three different seasonal managed areas according to their values as critical habitat for bottlenose dolphins in the strait.