30 April 2010

Monk seal shot in Greece

On April 27, a young monk seal of about four months was found in Northern Evoia, Greece, with a severe head injury.

The seal - a male - was still alive and he was rescued by MOm together with local vets. According to Vangelis Paravas of MOm, the seal was shot. One eye is lost and around it there is a large infected wound. The nasal cavity is damaged and the animal cannot dive. At the moment the seal is blind and unable to feed.

The poor seal is being provided first aid and medications and he was transferred to the wildlife clinic of the Veterinary School of Thessaloniki for rehab.

Senseless killing of critically endangered marine mammals is a crime towards both the animals and biodiversity. We humans do not own this planet: we share it with other creatures and we owe them respect.

Mediterranean monk seals survive in very low numbers, mostly in Greece. We should value their presence and welcome with great joy the animals' timid efforts to get back to healthy population numbers. What ignorant can ever think about shooting a young monk seal in the head, perhaps seeing this beautiful animal merely as a "competitor" for fish resources?

The day when there will be no competition by monk seals and dolphins - and therefore none of these animals around - will be a very sad day.

Giovanni Bearzi

Photo of the injured monk seal by Vangelis Paravas / MOm

27 April 2010

Dolphins of Greece 1 (17-24 April)

As Joan said very rightly: after this experience you will never look at a dolphin fin the same way. Who would have imagined fins can look so different! But of course the most marvellous experience was the time we spent on the boat, with the dolphins! It was really great to see the differences in their behaviour, to hear them breathing so close by and see their friendly faces. It completely made us forget the chilly wind – imagine that in a few weeks teams will be heat-battered in that same boat.

What made the expedition really enjoyable was the team spirit: it must be because we were such an international (5 nationalities) team that we were able to cooperate so smoothly. We were fortunate to have a team with great sense of humour: if jokes sometimes got a little out of hand, we can only blame that on “ouzo” and “krassi”. We learnt that Germans can be ferocious drivers, that being negative on command is not an easy thing to do and that Joan “no habla ingles” when the discussion gets tricky. Meanwhile our live-from-the-field teacher kept several classes of American kids up-to-date with our expedition findings and did a good deal to help them realise how they can help to save endangered marine species from extinction. We hope you will see some of them on an Earthwatch expedition in the future!

Stephan (Germany), Marie-Claire and Cas (Holland)


This experience has been truly amazing for me. I left America with a very different attitude than I will be returning with. Joan’s passion for his work was contagious. He was a very good teacher when it came time to explain the big picture and how our choices are affecting the environment in such negative ways. I had no idea that overfishing was as bad as it is. The documentaries really showed how depressing is the situation and how we, as consumers, have the power to change what is happening. The message I want to take back to my classroom is that every one of us plays a part and that asking the right questions and becoming more educated about what we buy is the way to get things moving in the right direction. I have to say I am a changed woman and I will be approaching some aspects of my life very differently as a result of this trip.

I want to thank Joan and Panni for their hospitality. It cannot be easy welcoming four very different individuals into your home and successfully making them all feel comfortable. The balance between work and play was very nice. I got to see a lot more than the dolphins, which would have been enough. I will never forget the faces of those dolphins and how it felt when they looked at you. If only they would stay above the water just a little longer so I could get a decent picture of them. The time on the boat was amazing and intense! I am sorry that it has to end, but I leave here knowing that my students will benefit greatly from the information I have gathered. As a result, I believe our environment will benefit greatly too, even if it is just a little.

Apart from learning a lot about dolphins through presentations as well as constantly asking questions to our patient expedition leader, we received a thorough insight into the state of commercial fishing, the already depleted resources of the oceans and possible solutions to those problems.

Nicole (USA)

25 April 2010

Jane Goodall on animal rights

Do you think that animals should have rights?

I personally am never going to fight for rights 'per se'. (...) My approach is different. I'm fighting for human responsibility. 

So my job is to make people think of animals differently - as they really are. You can have a law - and we're surrounded by laws - but it's so often possible to get around them - they are continually being broken. So I want people to understand that animals really do have personalities and feelings - so that they want to obey laws that protect them.”


Photo by Michael Neugebauer: Jane Goodall with an orphan chimpanzee at the Tchimpounga Sanctuary in the Republic of Congo.

15 April 2010

OCEANS - the film

On Earth Day 2010 (April 22nd), Disneynature will be releasing the documentary film OCEANS.

Featuring spectacular imagery captured by the latest underwater technologies and showed through the eyes of the creatures that live there, OCEANS promises an unprecedented look beneath the sea in a powerful motion picture.

OCEANS calls for the need to respect nature and it aims to demonstrate the negative impacts of human activities.

We have not seen the movie yet, but it looks like something that shouldn't be missed.

For more information and to view the trailer:

13 April 2010

If everyone

If everyone believed…
If everyone cared…
If everyone took responsibility…

(Click on the image to view a nice video message by NOAA)


For more information:

12 April 2010

Overfishing in a coastal ecosystem in Greece

A collaboration between Tethys researchers and the University of British Columbia Fisheries Centre in Vancouver has recently resulted in a new paper: “Effects of local fisheries and ocean productivity on the northeastern Ionian Sea ecosystem”.

The study considers the time span 1964-2008 and 22 functional groups including dolphins, tuna, swordfish, monk seals, sea turtles as well as plankton, crustaceans and detritus.

Application of Ecopath with Ecosim highlighted a decline of top predators since the late 1970s. Decline of commercial fish resources, caused by overfishing, provoked a cascade-up effect through the ecosystem and had important negative consequences on species such as the short-beaked common dolphin - that almost vanished in this part of Greece.

The study was published in Ecological Modelling.


Piroddi C., Bearzi G., Christensen V. 2010. Effects of local fisheries and ocean productivity on the northeastern Ionian Sea ecosystem. Ecol. Model. doi:10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2010.03.002

Abstract -- To better understand the effects of fisheries and ocean productivity on the northeastern Ionian Sea we constructed an Ecopath with Ecosim model with 22 functional groups. Data on biomass, production/biomass, consumption/biomass, and diet for each group were estimated or extrapolated from the literature. Fisheries landings and discards were also included. Temporal trajectories were simulated using Ecosim. The model was fitted with time-series data for the most important groups from 1964 to 2006. Simulations highlighted a decline of top predators and of most of the commercial species since the late 1970s. The model shows that the decline of fish resources was mainly caused by an intensive fishing pressure that occurred in the area until the end of the 1990s and also by changes in primary production that impacted the trajectories of the main functional groups. In particular, simulated changes through time in PP impacted the abundance trends of all the commercial species, showing a cascade-up effect through the ecosystem. The application of Ecopath with Ecosim was a useful tool for understanding the trends of the main functional groups of the northeastern Ionian Sea. The model underlined that management actions are needed to restore and protect target species including marine mammals, pelagic and demersal fishes. In particular, measures to reduce overfishing, illegal fishing activities and to respect existing legislations are in need. Moreover, the adoption of marine protected areas could be an effective management measure to guarantee prey survival and to sustain marine predators.

11 April 2010

Amazing nature, amazing photo

This incredible image, taken by wildlife photographer Tommy Hatwell, portrays a killer whale (Orcinus orca) attacking a false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) and her calf in New Zealand waters.

"I have never known anything like this before to be captured on film. This is Mother Nature at its most brutal, a rare occurrence that it was seen by humans, and even more rare that it was captured on camera”, commented an excited Hatwell.

For more information:

06 April 2010

Peroni and Tethys

The Italian brewing company ‘Peroni’ donated 3000 cans of beer to Tethys.

Volunteers participating in Tethys field courses will surely enjoy such a refreshing drink on the patio of the Galaxidi field station, or on the deck of the Pelagos boat.

We are grateful to Peroni for their contribution to our field activities.


03 April 2010


Had you ever wondered which is the best restaurant to eat sustainable fish, Fish2Fork may be the answer.

After The End of the Line, Fish2Fork is Charles Clover’s new conservation idea: the first online restaurant guide to highlight best and worst seafood places.

With a specific rating system, Fish2Fork evaluates restaurants in terms of food quality, impacts on marine life, and whether they provide information about fish or shellfish species served on the menu.

Unfortunately, Fish2Fork covers only the U.K. and the U.S.A. - a disappointing bias.