Indian Ocean humpback dolphins Sousa plumbea inhabit nearshore waters from South Africa to eastern India. Humpback dolphins are vulnerable to conservation threats due to their naturally small population sizes and use of nearshore habitats, where human activities are highest. We investigated the abundance and residency of this species inhabiting Mossel Bay, South Africa, using photographic mark-recapture. Data were collected during 81 surveys in Mossel Bay between 2011 and 2013. Open population modelling using the POPAN parameterisation produced a ‘super-population’ estimate of 125 individuals (95% CI: 61–260) and within-year estimates of between 33 and 86 individuals (2011: 71 [95% CI: 30–168]; 2012: 33 [15–73], 32 [15–70]; 2013: 46 [20–108]). Although less appropriate, closed capture models were also run for comparison with previous studies in the region and generated similar, but slightly smaller, population estimates within each year. We compared our catalogue with opportunistic data collected from East London, Plettenberg Bay, De Hoop and Gansbaai. The only catalogue matches attained were between Plettenberg Bay (n = 44 identified) and Mossel Bay (n = 67 identified), separated by 140 km. Population exchange was moderate, with nine individuals resighted in multiple years between these two areas. This study supports previous findings of long-range movements for this species and provides a baseline from which to assess future impacts on the population.