30 October 2013

European honey buzzard

A European honey buzzard Pernis apivorus photograhed on the northern shore of the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, between Galaxidi and Agii Pantes.

As the name suggests, this species feeds on the larvae and nests of wasps and hornets, although its diet may also include small mammals, reptiles and birds.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

29 October 2013

Where the great heron feeds

When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go and lie down where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day-blind stars waiting with their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free.

-- Wendell Berry (born 1934)

(Photo by unknown author, edited)

25 October 2013

24 October 2013

Looking at you

A striped dolphin breaches near our inflatable and takes the chance to look at the people on board. 

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

Multi purpose

A useful bitt.

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

23 October 2013


Plate of a wooden boat, with dolphin mother and calf.

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

22 October 2013

Alone at sea

A handline fisherman before sunrise in the Bay of Itea, Greece

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

21 October 2013

Take off

A Scopoli's shearwater Calonectris diomedea takes off, running on the water surface.

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

19 October 2013

Still windy

The end of a windy day as seen from the bay of Vasiliki, near Galaxidi.

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

18 October 2013


Striped dolphins leaping at unison.

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

17 October 2013

Striped dolphins, close

Two striped dolphins surface close to our inflatable

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


Big European congers Conger conger for sale at the port of Kiato, Greece. This fish is normally quite hard to sell, and is sometimes discarded.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

16 October 2013

Flock of egrets

A flock of little egrets Egretta garzetta up in the sky above the Gulf of Corinth.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

Red planet

A striped dolphin surfaces on Mars.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece; no colour editing)

15 October 2013

Artisanal fisherman in Greece - 19

After a life spent at sea, Captain Anastasios, age 85, still goes out fishing with his 4 m long boat.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Agios Spiridon, Greece)

14 October 2013

13 October 2013

The Ghosts in Our Machine

I have from an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men such as I look upon the murder of animals as they now look upon the murder of men.

-- Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.

-- Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

THE GHOSTS IN OUR MACHINE — http://www.theghostsinourmachine.com/

Shark jaws

The jaws of this shark were tied on the shrouds of a fishing boat in Aliki, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

12 October 2013

Reality Demands

Reality Demands

Reality demands
we also state the following:
life goes on.
It does so near Cannae and Borodino,
at Kosovo Polje and Guernica.

There is a gas station
in a small plaza in Jericho,
and freshly painted
benches near Bila Hora.
Letters travel
between Pearl Harbor and Hastings,
a furniture truck passes
before the eyes of the lion of Cheronea,
and only an atmospheric front advances
towards the blossoming orchards near Verdun.

There is so much of Everything
that Nothing is quite well concealed.
Music flows
from yachts near Actium
and couples on board dance in the sunlight.

So much keeps happening,
that it must be happening everywhere.
Where stone is heaped on stone,
there is an ice cream truck
besieged by children.
Where Hiroshima had been,
Hiroshima is again
manufacturing products
for everyday use.

Not without its charms is this terrible world,
not without its mornings
worth our waking.

In the fields of Maciejowice
the grass is green
and on the grass is––you know how grass is––
transparent dew.

Maybe there are no fields other than battlefields,
those still remembered,
and those long forgotten,
birch woods and cedar woods,
snows and sands, iridescent swamps,
and ravines of dark defeat
where today, in sudden need,
you squat behind a bush.

What moral flows from this? Maybe none.
But what really flows is quickly-drying blood,
and as always, some rivers and clouds.

On the tragic mountain passes
the wind blows hats off heads
and we cannot help––
but laugh.

-- Wislawa Szymborska

Translated from Polish by Joanna Maria Trzeciak


Cannae: an ancient village in Italy, the setting of the crushing defeat suffered by the Romans at the hand of Hannibal in 216 B.C.

Borodino: a village seventy miles west of Moscow, saw major conflict between the French army under Napoleon and the Russian army under General Kutuzov on September 7, 1812. The battle is chiefly remembered for the heavy casualties  suffered on both sides.

Kosovo Polje: is infamous for the battle fought there on June 5, 1389, between Serbia and the Ottoman Empire that resulted in the collapse of Serbia.

Guernica: a small city in the Basque region of Spain, was subjected to a massive aerial bombing attack by the German air force, aided by Italy and Spain's national Fascist party, on April 26, 1937, at the height of the Spanish Civil War.

Jericho, located on the bank of the West Bank of the Jordan river, was the first Canaanite city to be attacked by the Israelites according to the account given in Joshua I:I-6:27.

Bila Hora, near Prague, was the site of the Bohemian defeat at the hands of the Habsburgs on November 8, 1620.

Pearl Harbor was a United States naval base attacked without warning by the Japanese air force on December 7, 1941. 

Hastings, sixty-two miles southeast of London, is famed as the setting for the victory of Norman invaders led by William the Conqueror over English forces serving King Harold on October 14, 1066.

Chaeronea, and ancient town in central Greece, was the site of the victory of Philip II of Macedon over a confederation of Greek states in 338 B.C.

Verdun, a garrison town in northeastern France, was reduced to ruins during its historic resistance to German forces in a series of World War I battles that ended in French victory during August 1917.

Actium was the scene of the decisive naval victory of Octavian over Mark Antony and Cleopatra on September 2, 31 BC.

Hiroshima is the Japanese city on which the United States dropped the first atomic bomb ever used in warfare on August 6, 1945.

Maciejowice is a village near Garwlolin, Poland, where on October 10, 1794, Polish forces under Tadeusz Kosciuszko were defeated by the Russian army under General Fersen.

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

11 October 2013

Interviewing fishermen - 16

Silvia interviewing a trammel fisherman in Marathias, on the far west Gulf of Corinth 

Our survey of fishermen perceptions in this part of Greece is now complete, with a sample of 104 interviews and 47 ports and moorings surveyed.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Hosios Loukas

The stunning Byzantine monastery of Hosios Loukas lies in the center of a pristine valley.

More images of the monastery, only about 1 hr from our field station in Galaxidi, can be viewed HERE, together with other photos of this beautiful part of the world.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

10 October 2013

Marine finfish aquaculture and its appeal to bottlenose dolphins

This text was written for the blog of OceanCare, our partner organization and the main funder of this study.

Bottlenose dolphins in the Mediterranean are increasingly attracted by marine finfish aquaculture facilities. Availability of prey near fish farms may help dolphins to survive in areas that have been intensively overfished. However, foraging near coastal fish farms may expose the animals to pollution and anthropogenic noise.

Between October 2010 and April 2011, we conducted a research project in the Northern Evoikos Gulf, a semi-enclosed basin in central Greece, doing photo-identification and investigating factors affecting dolphin distribution throughout the Gulf. We then used statistical models to describe dolphin presence according to variables including bathymetry, sea surface temperature, chlorophyll, and various anthropogenic variables.

One of the most interesting findings concerned the interaction between dolphins and local fish farms. Our study showed that fish farms were the major factor determining dolphin distribution. The waters of the Northern Evoikos Gulf have been heavily overfished and it is quite possible that, today, fish farms are among the few places where dolphins can still find enough prey.

Luckily, dolphins do neither depredate nor damage the farms. Rather, they feed on fish attracted by a higher productivity around the cages, where a part of the food pellets given to farmed fish may drift away.

Although dolphin occurrence was generally higher near fish farms, some farms were found to have a much higher "appeal". Bottlenose dolphins actually spent most of their time close to a cluster of farms situated in the proximity of an appalling ferronickel smelting plant. This large plant, active year-round since 1969 and operating 24 hours a day, is regarded as the main producer of ferronickel in Europe.

By feeding in the immediate proximity of a heavy industry, dolphins are consistently exposed to polluted waters, contaminated prey and noise. All that is likely to result in long-term negative impacts on the animals. Several individuals photographed during this study actually showed tumours, body deformities and skin diseases, to an extent not found in other parts of the Mediterranean Sea where we have been studying bottlenose dolphins for decades.

The results of our study have been recently published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems. By making this information available to the scientific and conservation community, we aim to contribute to a process that will hopefully lead to management action to protect the dolphins and the local ecosystem.

As we wrote in our published article:

"The consequences of feeding around fish farms situated in coastal waters exposed to industrial noise, smoke, runoff and large-scale disposal of metallurgic waste is a conservation concern, and more information is needed to assess long-term impact on the population dynamics of bottlenose dolphins. In addition, the close proximity of fish farms, industry, and the slag disposal area may pose threats that extend beyond ecology of the region, in the form of the quality of fish produced at fish farms that are in turn consumed by humans." 


You may request a pdf copy of this paper to the first author, Silvia Bonizzoni.

Bonizzoni S., Furey N., Pirotta E., Valavanis V.D., Würsig B., Bearzi G. 2013. Fish farming and its appeal to common bottlenose dolphins: modelling habitat use in a Mediterranean embayment. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2401.

Church by the sea

The small Orthodox church at the port of Chiladou, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

09 October 2013

Morning fisherman

A hand line fisherman before sunrise.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Bay of Itea, Greece)

07 October 2013

Keel art - 4

Inspired by Keith Laban's "Found Paintings".

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

Keel art - 3

Inspired by Keith Laban's "Found Paintings".

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

06 October 2013

Striped dolphin and yacht

A striped dolphin leaps parallel to a passing yacht. This time the yacht travels at a reasonably low speed, compatible with dolphin presence in the area.

Unreasonably high speeds are shown HERE.

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

04 October 2013

Artisanal fisherman in Greece - 17

One of the few fisherwomen operating independently in the Gulf of Corinth, portrayed while she is cleaning a large squid in the port of Kiato, Greece.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

03 October 2013

Fish farming and its appeal to common bottlenose dolphins: modelling habitat use in a Mediterranean embayment

The following article has just been published online in the peer-reviewed journal Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems.

You may request a pdf copy of this paper to the first author, Silvia Bonizzoni.


Bonizzoni S., Furey N., Pirotta E., Valavanis V.D., Würsig B., Bearzi G. 2013. Fish farming and its appeal to common bottlenose dolphins: modelling habitat use in a Mediterranean embayment. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems DOI: 10.1002/aqc.2401.


1. Common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus interact with fish farms in the Mediterranean Sea. These interactions were investigated in a Greek bay by incorporating multiple geographic, bathymetric, oceanographic, and anthropogenic variables.

2. Generalized additive models (GAMs) and generalized estimation equations (GEEs) were used to describe dolphin presence. Visual surveys were conducted over 2909 km under favourable viewing conditions that included 54 dolphin group follows for 457 km. Sea surface temperature (SST) and chlorophyll-a (Chl-a) data were obtained from remote sensing imagery, and distances to sources of human influences including fish farms, a ferro-nickel plant, and a slag disposal area were calculated within a geographic information system (GIS).

3. Bottlenose dolphins were encountered mainly in the south-eastern portion of the study area, and occurrence was not clearly related to SST and Chl-a, nor the ferro-nickel plant or nearby slag disposal area.

4. Dolphin occurrence generally increased within 20 km of fish farms, with four farms and dolphins displaying a positive relationship, seven no clear relationship, and two a negative one.

5. While it is likely that uneaten food and other detritus attract dolphin prey, individual farms (or clusters of farms) clearly had a different appeal. The proximity of the ferro-nickel plant and slag disposal area to ‘attractive’ fish farms could compromise dolphin health, but physiological data are unavailable.

6. The modelling of multiple variables allowed for a description of dolphin habitat use and attraction to some fish farms. More such data analysed in similar manner would be instructive for other areas where marine mammals and fish farms co-occur.

Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

About to breach

A striped dolphin about to breach in front of our inflatable.

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

02 October 2013

Artisanal fisherman in Greece - 16

A young trammel fisherman from Kirra.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

The Story of Solutions

Those who liked The Story of Stuff, or the many movies that followed in its wake, may enjoy Annie Leonard's latest movie, which was issued yesterday:


01 October 2013

Flying gurnard

A trammel fisherman in Marathias shows his catch: a flying gurnard Dactylopterus volitans.

See how this magnificent fish appears IN NATURE.

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

Learning to fish

A boy attentively observes the fish trapped in his grandpa's trammel net.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Valtos, Greece)