30 September 2013

Evening fins

Two striped dolphins surface in the copper light of a late evening.

At this time of the day the animals tend to disperse and they perform longer dives, consistent with the hypothesis of feeding behaviour.

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

29 September 2013

Curley & friend

Striped dolphin "Curley" (after its curled dorsal fin) plays with a friend.

(Photo by Silvia Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

Interviewing fishermen - 15

The Peloponnese mountains bless this image with a remarkable background.

The fisherman who is fixing his boat, however, seemed unimpressed by the landscape... and he refused to be interviewed.

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

28 September 2013

Fishing in Nafpaktos

A trammel netter leaves the beautiful old port of Nafpaktos, on the NW coast of the Gulf of Corinth.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)


These colourful caterpillars (likely of the spurge hawk-moth Hyles euphorbiae) have just appeared in our garden. There is plenty of Euphorbia plants in the Galaxidi area, and that is what these artworks of nature seem to target.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Galaxidi, Greece)

27 September 2013


This stargazer Uranoscopus scaber may not look handsome to some, but it sure has an inspiring common name :-)

It is actually an elegant and beautiful fish when observed in its natural element. In addition, it has an acoustic apparatus that produces acoustic as well as electric pulses.

The more one knows about just any animal species, the more one finds it interesting and fascinating. Judging based on physical appearance (out of water) cuts off the amazing universes behind.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, on a trammel netter in Itea, Greece)

26 September 2013


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

Fishermen offers

Thirty-four of 100 fishermen (97 men, 3 women) interviewed in the Gulf of Corinth made some kind of offer to Silvia. For fun, she kept track of them in her database. She was offered:

coffee  -  10 times
coffe and dinner  -  once
a drink  -  6 times
cigarette  -  8 times
cigarette and fish  -  once
cigarette and lunch  -  once
figs  -  once
fish  -  3 times
shells  -  3 times

Silvia accepted the shells and a couple of coffees offered by seniors. None of the interviewed fishermen behaved unpleasantly, and most were very kind. 

The trammel fisherman in the photo above washes a shell to be offered to the interviewer.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Aliki, Greece)

25 September 2013

Is that true?

The expression of Silvia as a person met in Agios Spiridon, Greece, tells her that fish in the Gulf of Corinth has declined over the past decades because of... earthquakes.

That is a story we heard a few times. Has such belief been generated by some misinformed TV programme? While the Gulf of Corinth is one of several seismic areas in Greece, earthquakes in this area certainly aren't a recent phenomenon.

Fish was plentiful until a few decades ago, and earthquakes are an unlikely reason behind its decline. The majority of fishermen interviewed in the Gulf of Corinth assert the most likely candidate to explain such negative trend is overfishing by trawlers and seiners.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Comfort on board

These small wooden chairs make fishing and working on board just a little more comfortable.

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

24 September 2013

Three commons

Inquisitive short-beaked common dolphins approach the inflatable. 

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

Giant factory trawlers

See the original LARGE IMAGE and read some FACTS about supertrawlers.

23 September 2013

Fisherman interview #100

Today Silvia interviewed her 100th fisherman in the Gulf of Corinth, Nikos Moutsakitis of Glifada. Apart from answering all questions, he reported the interesting story of a dolphin who came to die in the port.

Overall, a total of 106 artisanal fishermen were approached (6 declined) across 44 ports and moorings throughout the Gulf. We collected information including damage caused by dolphins, occurrence of dolphin bycatch in fishing gear, sightings and captures of rare species, the perceived impact of polluting industries, fish farming and commercial fishing, and much more (our standard questionnaire contains 25 questions).

Silvia was able to establish friendly relationships, and several fishermen now know about our work and can be contacted again for collaborative studies – or simply to drink an ouzo together.

In future blogs we will post more about this work, as we find the world of artisanal fishing truly fascinating. While we are aware that fishing has caused so much damage – worldwide – small-scale fishing with traditional boats of the kind found in the Gulf of Corinth has little if anything to do with the destruction caused by purse seiners, bottom trawlers and the like.

Fishermen, as a category, are indeed as diverse as "farmers" or "scientists". It may be the 80-year old owner of a 5 m wooden boat, the seasonal immigrant working on a seiner for pennies, or the businessman who counts the money made by his supertrawler wiping out someone elses' food resources and future off the coast of West Africa.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Wanna be a marine biologist?

A National Geographic "Ocean Views" article by Maddalena Bearzi, a member of the DBC research team, attempts to answer the question.


In the DBC web site there is a page that offers similar advice to students who aim to become cetacean researchers:


Finally, a blog by another member of the DBC research team, Nathan Furey, offers more specific advice to those who are serious about pursuing a career in this field:


(Photo of Maddalena by Charles Saylan / Ocean Conservation Society)

22 September 2013

Windy September

Not many chances of doing good work at sea with these winds that keep blowing...

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

Water game

A baby striped dolphin playing with water – a toy always available.

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

Four brothers

Artisanal fishing boats in Greece are often named after the number of brothers who co-own or share them. This one should belong to four brothers (4 Adelfia).

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Diakopto, Greece)

21 September 2013

Artisanal fishermen in Greece - 15

A fisherman setting up his nets in Korinthos.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Yaya from above

The one Risso's dolphin in the Gulf of Corinth, photographed while she is swimming under the bow of our inflatable.

Like her striped and common dolphin associates, Yaya enjoys bowriding when she is in the right mood (also see THIS POST).

On other occasions, however, the three species are busy doing other things, and they may not feel like bowriding at all.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

20 September 2013

Liquid gold

A striped dolphin leaps as water turns into liquid gold.

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

19 September 2013

Young wings

A juvenile seagull in the early morning light.

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

Interviewing fishermen - 14

Silvia interviewing fishermen in Nafpaktos, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

18 September 2013

17 September 2013

Basic boat

A rather basic boat moored in the bay of Psathopirgos, Greece. One wonders what the symbol below "Dimitris Panagiotis" may mean...

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Interviewing fishermen - 13

Silvia interviewing two young trammel fishermen in Korinthos, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

16 September 2013

Striped dolphin eye

The eye of this individual conveys a mix of concentration and concern.

While we can't really decipher this kind of looks, the claim that dolphins lack facial expression may be oversimplistic. Their eyes are quite expressive.

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

Fast cargo, no riding

We encounter this cargo ship operated by Hellenic Seaways almost every time we make a survey in the Gulf of Corinth. It is a very fast ship, and so far dolphins were never seen riding her bow as they often do with slower ships. There seems to be a "speed limit" for bowriding.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

15 September 2013

Rion-Antirion bridge

The 1.9 km wide four-pylon bridge crossing the Rion-Antirion strait, the western 'door' to the Gulf of Corinth in Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Artisanal fisherman in Greece - 14

A fisherman in Itea, Greece, displays the fish he caught with his longline.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

14 September 2013

Counting the boats

To get an idea of the percentage of fishermen and boats covered by our interviews, we eventually decided to assess the whole fishing fleet of the Gulf of Corinth. We classified all the fishing boats operating nets and longlines across about 40 ports and moorings. That gave us a chance of seeing a variety of fishing environments, talking to locals and interviewing more fishermen along the way.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Loutraki, Greece)

Cotylorhiza, baby fish and dolphins

The baby fish hiding under a juvenile Mediterranean jelly Cotylorhiza tuberculata don't leave their shelter as striped dolphins pass by.

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

Interviewing fishermen - 12

Silvia interviewing a retired fisherman in Xilokastro, Greece. Bright, extremely kind... and the oldest interviewed so far: 89 years! 

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

13 September 2013

Affordable happiness

Happiness is a beat-up motorboat (?).

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

Interviewing fishermen - 11

Silvia interviewing a fisherman in Itea, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

11 September 2013

Bad day?

Our little owl looked a little angry last night :-)

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Galaxidi, Greece)

Interviewing fishermen - 10

Silvia interviewing a fisherman in Eratini, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

10 September 2013

A deepwater squid: abandoned dolphin prey?

Yesterday we were with striped dolphins when this amazing deepwater squid appeared at the surface. Dead, but very fresh and possibly just killed by the dolphins themselves.

As the dolphins moved away, we took some photos of this curious animal and then decided to take it home and... taste it. The animal, however, turned out to be made of little more than water. Contrary to other cephalopods used for human consumption, it almost completely evaporated, leaving only a spoon of gelatinous substance in the pan. It was like cooking a jellyfish.

Was the squid killed by the dolphins "for fun" (as they sometimes do with Mediterranean jelly, see THIS POST), but disregarded as a potential food item?

We shall investigate, and identify the species (Histioteuthis sp.?). We have never seen such a squid before, and while prey (e.g. European conger Conger conger) is sometimes abandoned at the surface by bottlenose dolphins, we never observed that behaviour with striped dolphins. Maybe the squid wasn't really killed by them... but having found it freshly dead in the middle of a dolphin group makes us wonder.

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

Too fast

This kind of speedboats sometimes cut right through a group of striped dolphins — without even noticing.

Also see THIS POST about the possibility of causing physical lesions.

(Both photos by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

Found necklace

Trammel net, rope and weight. On a beach near Galaxidi, Greece.

(Both photos by G. Bearzi)

09 September 2013

Orthodox priest

A young Orthodox priest in a traditional taverna on the small island of Trizonia. Spiritual advice may be imparted in friendly and informal settings, but priests in Greece preserve their charisma and they are deeply respected.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Clouds - 3

On the Gulf of Corinth, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

08 September 2013

Risso's and striped dolphins bowriding

Yesterday we encountered again the one Risso's dolphin living in the Gulf of Corinth. It is the second time this year.

We were following a group of striped dolphins when a ship passed by. In front of its bow we recognized the familiar silhouette of Yaya, who was bowriding together with several other striped dolphins.

Like the smaller dolphins, Yaya could leap and swim at a speed of 17 km/h. The group went on bowriding for several minutes before they separated from the ship.

We managed to photograph Yaya's dorsal fin and confirm her identification, before a strong wind forced us back to the port.

(Both photos by S. Bonizzoni)