31 August 2013

Artisanal fisherman in Greece - 13

Actually, she is a fisherwoman.

(Photo by B. Würsig, Itea, Greece)

Fishing boat deserving protection

The impact on the marine ecosystem of this kind of beautiful artisanal fishing boats is negligible. These days, the fish one can hope to catch with a 4 or 5 m long wooden boat provides, at best, an occasional frugal meal to be consumed by the fisherman's family.

As the fish stocks declined due to overfishing by commercial fleets, the small traditional boats have themselves declined. Skilled artisans able to work with wood and repair them are rare, and fibreglass has become the standard.

Small wooden boats should be regarded as a part of Greece's (and other coutries') cultural heritage. Instead of subsidizing commercial fleets that cause devastation, Mediterranean policy makers should consider investing in the protection of small-scale fishermen who operate this kind of small and harmless boats. That would promote beauty, tradition and sustainability at once.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Itea, Greece)

29 August 2013

Interviewing fishermen - 7

A particularly kind trammel fisherman interviewed by Silvia in Itea, Greece. His grandchild helps on board.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Interviewing fishermen - 6

Silvia interviewing a young trammel fisherman in Itea, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

28 August 2013

Pleasure and pain, happiness and misery

This Photoshop-based ad is part of an awareness campaign by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Queensland. It states that "we're all creatures great & small" (see the full ad by RSPCA - HERE).

In the Introduction of a paper published in 2010 (*) we wrote the following:

The full scientific realization that animals suffer is relatively new, and still lively debated (e.g. Singer, 1975; Regan, 1983; Hawkins, 2002; Chandroo et al., 2004; Dawkins, 2006, 2008; Bekoff, 2007). Although the concept has been at the core of some philosophies and religions for thousands of years (e.g. Buddhism; Lecso, 1988; Phelps, 2004), in strictly scientific terms the realization that animals can experience feelings including distress and pain has come much later in human history. Such a view has been around since the times of Charles Darwin and was clearly expressed by Darwin himself (1871): "the lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness and misery".

Bearzi G., Pierantonio N., Bonizzoni S., Notarbartolo di Sciara G., Demma M. 2010. Perception of a cetacean mass stranding in Italy: the emergence of compassion. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems 20:644-654.

27 August 2013

Three individuals, two species

A short-beaked common dolphin and two striped dolphins.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

26 August 2013

Shearwater alphabet

A Scopoli's shearwater Calonectris diomedea "paints" mysterious ideograms on the water surface as he flyes low in the early morning light.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

25 August 2013

"Hump-backed" striped dolphin

This striped dolphin with a hump – nicknamed Gibbo – has been regularly observed in the Gulf of Corinth since 2009. Yesterday Gibbo was actively socializing with other group members, performing repeated jumps around our boat.

Over the years, we have encountered bottlenose and striped dolphins with a range of physical deformities or other anomalies, who seem to be doing fine and behave pretty much the same way as their "normal" cospecifics. Anomalous appearance does not cut these animals off their society.

Also see THIS POST.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)


The eyes of this lady met in Galaxidi, Greece, express the dignity that some manage to find in their elderly years.

(Photo by D. Knäbel)

24 August 2013


Sometimes we wake up before 5 AM to look for dolphins, but we end up watching waves for the whole day. It doesn't feel like a waste of time.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

23 August 2013

Striped dolphin near coast

A striped dolphin breaches off the northern shore of the Peloponnese peninsula.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

22 August 2013

Drying tentacles

A fading tradition still alive in some areas of Greece: the tentacles of an octopus drying in the sun, to be served soon at a local taverna.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Eretria, Greece)

21 August 2013

Black-headed gulls

Black-headed gulls (possibly Chroicocephalus ridibundus) on the beach of Galveston Island, Texas.

(Both photos by G. Bearzi, March 2012)

20 August 2013

Wave riding - 2

The wave generated by a passing ship gives extra power to a striped dolphin's jump.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

Wave riding - 1

Striped dolphins get an adrenaline rush when the passing of a large vessel produces waves suitable for high-speed swimming and acrobatic jumps.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

19 August 2013

Frontal dolphins

The frontal view of a striped dolphin Stenella coeruleoalba, left, and of a common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus, right.

Note the different size of the head relative to the rest of the body.

(Both photos by S. Bonizzoni, Greece)

18 August 2013

Farmers market in Itea, Greece

We went shopping at the lively farmers market in Itea. Here is a PHOTO ALBUM showing the colours and some of the people.

(Photos by Dagmar Knäbel and Giovanni Bearzi)

17 August 2013

Split second

Two striped dolphins in the early morning light. Two images taken a fraction of a second apart.

(Top photo by G. Bearzi, bottom photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

Dolphin Biology People: Dagmar

Dagmar Knäbel first came to Galaxidi in 2009 to volunteer in our dolphin project. She was happy with her experience and returned in the following year. In 2012 she started fundraising for OceanCare through a campaign of her own invention, "Pixels for Dolphins": Dagmar used the money made as a freelance digital photographer to support dolphin conservation. When OceanCare informed us about a mysterious German donor, we did not know it was her.

As we found out, and remembered the passion and committment that Dagmar displayed as a volunteer in the early years, we offered her to come to Greece as a field assistant. It turned out to be a good idea, because Dagmar helped with the cropping of thousands of dorsal fin images and got involved in field data collection and logistics. She also toured the streets of Galaxidi and took dozens of good photographs (some being posted on this Blog).

In her "normal" life, Dagmar is a mother and a secondary school teacher of Biology and Chemistry in Erfurt, Germany. She holds a M.Sc. in Environmental Biology at the University of Wales, Swansea.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, July 2013)

16 August 2013

Striped dolphin baby - 4

A baby striped dolphin closes the exposed eye as she/he surfaces to breath. The sun strikes hard and dolphins wear no sunglasses.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

Keel art - 2

Inspired by Keith Laban's "Found Paintings".

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Southern Evoikos Gulf, Greece)

15 August 2013

Keel art - 1

Inspired by Keith Laban's "Found Paintings".

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Southern Evoikos Gulf, Greece)

Coastal striped dolphins

Striped dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth sometimes get quite close to the coast. The mother and calf photographed here are surfacing a few hundred metres off the northern shore of the Peloponnese.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

14 August 2013

Shearwater in the mirror

A Scopoli's shearwater Calonectris diomedea on a low-altitude flight.

Do these birds wonder who is the strange individual who always flies upside-down, just below? Or have they eventually realized it is their own reflected image?

Many aquatic species spend much of their time near a water surface that, when calm, accurately reflects their image (both from above and from below). Do they "recognize" themselves?

The question isn't as trivial as it may seem, because mirror self-recognition is sometimes associated with awareness of self - a cognitive ability previously thought to be exclusive to humans and apes, and now known to be present in dolphins.


Marino L, Reiss D, Gallup GG Jr (1994) Mirror self-recognition in bottlenose dolphins: implications for comparative investigations of highly dissimilar species. In: Parker ST, Mitchell RW, Boccia ML (eds) Self-awareness in animals and humans: developmental perspectives. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 380–391

Reiss D, Marino L (2001) Mirror self-recognition in the bottlenose dolphin: a case of cognitive convergence. Proc Natl A Sci USA 98(10):5937–5942

but also consider:

Schilhab TSS (2004) What mirror self-recognition in nonhumans can tell us about aspects of self. Biology and Phylosophy 19(1):111-126

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

13 August 2013

Coastal bottlenose dolphin

An adult common bottlenose dolphin Tursiops truncatus jumps near the northern coast of the Gulf of Corinth, Greece.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

12 August 2013

Unidentified fish

Can anyone help us identify this fish species, observed in the port of Xilokastro?

(Photo by S. Piwetz, Gulf of Corinth, Greece, July 2013)

Interviewing fishermen - 4

Silvia interviewing a fisherman in the Argolikos Gulf, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

11 August 2013

Eggplant Santorini

Eggplant Santorini is 1 Euro per kg at Galaxidi's colourful street market.

Living and working in this rural part of Greece, we often rely on farmers' markets and small local shops to buy provisions for our dolphin research project.

(Photo by D. Knäbel)

The tire iron and the tamale

10 August 2013

Artisanal fisherman in Greece - 12

This fisherman seems to have descended from Mount Olympos to set his trammel nets.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Itea, Greece)

09 August 2013

Morning light

A young striped dolphin jumps in front of our inflatable in a soft morning light. It is 7:08 AM and dolphins are fully awake.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

08 August 2013

Striped dolphin body language

A striped dolphin opens its mouth, possibly a warning sign to other group members.

While dolphins may not have a complex facial mimics (they can do little else than opening and closing their mouth), they certainly can express emotions and convey information about their "mood" by the way they move, occasionally also producing bubble streams via their blowhole.

And of course they possess a rich vocal repertory of pulsed and modulated sounds.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

No more "successful" people

The plain fact is that the planet does not need more successful people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every kind. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world habitable and humane. And these qualities have little to do with success as we have defined it.

-- David W. Orr

From "Earth in Mind: On Education, Environment, and the Human Prospect", Island Press, Washington, 2004 (10th anniversary edition)

07 August 2013

Social, not conventional business

Today’s crisis is a man-made crisis, not a natural disaster like a tsunami. How did it come about? We’ve converted the financial market into a gambling casino. This market is now driven by greed and speculation, rather than by real production. This is what happens when you move away from a real economy to a speculative economy. (-- continues)


Elena, Silvia, Isabelle and Dagmar on the inflatable. Elena and Isabelle attended a dolphin biology training course organized at our field station in partnership with OceanCare. Dagmar is a field assistant and a former volunteer.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece, July 2013)

06 August 2013

Early morning survey

Time 5:55 AM, leaving the port of Galaxidi, four people on board, sea state 1.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, August 2013)

Striped dolphin

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

05 August 2013

Mixed dolphins underwater

Striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba swim with short-beaked common dolphins Delphinus delphis and other individuals showing a somewhat intermediate pigmentation pattern.

(Photos from video by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

03 August 2013

Monk seal sighted from coast

On July 26th we casually stopped near a beach in Eretria, in the Southern Evoikos Gulf (Greece) and spotted a Mediterranean monk seal Monachus monachus that was swimming some 30-40 m off the coast.

The animal performed repeated dives around an anchored speedboat, while a few ladies were floating in nearby waters to escape the summer heat. The ladies did not notice, but a few people on the beach saw us taking photos, spotted the seal, and stood there to watch. There was no animosity or particular excitement, as if observing a Critically Endangered large marine mammal swimming among bathers was a normal occurrence.

Our observation lasted about 30 minutes, between 18:35 and 19:10. When we left the seal was still performing the same behaviour, i.e. surfacing quietly and diving around the same speedboat. Too bad we did not have our boat, or any means of obtaining closer photos. The ones above were taken from the beach with a 200 mm lens.

The sighting position is 38˚23'30''N 23˚47'09''E.

(Photos by G. Bearzi, July 2013)

02 August 2013

Working with fishermen - 2

Silvia inspecting longline-caught bluefin tuna and swordfish.

(Photo by D. Knäbel, Galaxidi, Greece)

Working with fishermen - 1

Silvia jumps on board to talk with longline fisherman Dimitris, after he and his brother Iannis returned to the port with a boatload of bluefin tuna and swordfish. A rare event that raised much excitement in town.

(Photo by D. Knäbel, Galaxidi, Greece)

01 August 2013

Striped dolphin exhaling

A striped dolphin breathes out before breaking the water surface.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)