27 May 2008

Cetacean strandings in the District of Brindisi

Paola Pino D’Astore, an independent biologist, in collaboration with Tethys researchers Giovanni Bearzi and Silvia Bonizzoni, have recently made available an important dataset of cetacean strandings along the District of Brindisi, in the southern Adriatic Sea on the eastern coast of Apulia (Italy).

While Paola conducted the whole field investigation and data collection, Silvia and Giovanni revised and analyzed stranding data and photographic documentation.

Between January 2002 and May 2008, a total of 46 cetacean strandings events were recorded. Strandings were always of single individuals, and included 2 Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris), 16 common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), 9 striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), 4 small Delphinidae (most likely S. coeruleoalba), 11 unidentified small Delphinidae, and 4 unknown cetacean species. Detailed analyses are underway.

This and other information has been posted online on a dedicated section of the Tethys web site.


For more information:
Apulia Dolphin Project (see Cetacean strandings section)

25 May 2008

Dolphin event in Vonitsa, Greece

On May 20th, 2008, about 300 children of Vonitsa’s Primary School attended the presentation "Our Friends the Dolphins" inspired by the booklet by Tethys’ president Giovanni Bearzi.

This event was carried out in the context of public awareness and education activities developed by Tethys’ Ionian Dolphin Project, with support from WDCS, OceanCare, the RAC/SPA and the Earthwatch Institute.

The presentation was led by staff member Sofia Vekerithou, a teacher from Vonitsa, Greece, who started collaborating with Tethys in 2007 and is now contributing substantially to education programmes. Sofia was helped by her teen-age students at the Vonitsa Secondary School.

In April Sofia and her students visited the Tethys field station in Vonitsa and dolphin researcher Joan Gonzalvo introduced them to the work done by Tethys since 1991 on dolphins in the Ionian Sea. This visit motivated the older students to share what they learned with younger kids.

Sofia and Joan helped the students to do independent research on the conservation of the Amvrakikos Gulf, with emphasis on dolphins living there. The students were then provided with information and visual materials to organize a dolphin conservation event, presenting their own work to the young audience.

An important role was played by the booklet “All About Dolphins” produced by WDCS, CMS and TUI. One hundred copies of this multilingual educational manual were given to local school teachers and used as preparatory material for their students prior to the dolphin event.

Seeing the young audience lighting up with curiosity and interest by the message delivered by Sofia and her students was a great satisfaction for the Tethys team, that strives to raise awareness on the need to protect marine biodiversity. The success of this event is a reason to believe that marine conservation in Greece is still within reach!

Joan Gonzalvo, Sofia Vekerithou and Giovanni Bearzi

Photos of the dolphin event

22 May 2008

"Cindy" is back

This morning, May 21st, 2008, I had the pleasant surprise of finding an old friend.

Cindy has been paying a visit to the Vonitsa seaside over the past couple of years, at least according to my own experience (I live in this Greek city on the shore of the Amvrakikos Gulf since March 2006, doing year-round research on local bottlenose dolphins).

Usually, Cindy arrives sometime around spring and disappears in early autumn. She is a gorgeous loggerhead sea turtle Caretta caretta who moves gracefully feeding on mussels and on fish discarded by local fishermen moored along the Vonitsa seafront.

Although it may be premature to assume that this sea turtle is always the same individual, local fishermen claim so because of its size and the way it behaves.

While we compare the several hundreds of photos of “Cindy” taken during the past few years to deny or confirm that claim, I savor the idea that she has always been good-old Cindy and I fantasize about the different places that she might have visited while she was away.

Joan Gonzalvo