21 April 2014

Boy with a Dolphin - David Wynne

"Boy with a Dolphin" by David Wynne. Statue near Albert Bridge, London, U.K.

(Photo by N. Stoppelli)

18 April 2014


A young bottlenose dolphin peeks at the researchers' boat from behind the mother's body.

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

17 April 2014

Unknown behaviour

Bottlenose dolphins being active at the surface.
What are they doing? Socializing? Feeding? This time we don't know for sure.

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

16 April 2014


A striped dolphin leaping.

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

14 April 2014

Tail of a whale

Caudal vertebrae of a fin whale, on display at the 'Museum‐Aquarium' of Liège, Belgium.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

Longline marks

Longline marks on a wooden boat in isla São Miguel, Azores.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

13 April 2014

Lavic stones for longlines

Black lavic stones are used a weights for longline gear in Ribeira Grande, isla São Miguel, Azores.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

12 April 2014

Shifting perceptions towards Mediterranean whales and dolphins

Bonizzoni S., Bearzi G., Würsig B. 2014. Shifting perceptions towards Mediterranean whales and dolphins: from monsters to icons. Proceedings of Workshop "Marine Mammals as Indicators of Historical Changes", 28th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. Liege, Belgium, 5–9 April 2014.

Shifting perceptions towards Mediterranean whales and dolphins: from monsters to icons 

ABSTRACT – Middle age to modern Mediterranean iconography and literature often portray cetaceans as monsters deserving extermination. Based on evidence dating back to the 16th century, whales approaching the coast or live-stranded were regularly killed, often savagely, while dolphins were regarded as vermin to be culled or – in the mid 20th century – as game trophies. Conversely, in the last 30 years whales and dolphins have become charismatic animals and they have become protected by the laws of Mediterranean nations. Shifts of public perceptions in parts of the region were investigated by means of literature reviews, assessments of public reactions to cetacean mortality events, and interviews of fishers. In 2009, as a mortality event involving seven sperm whales occurred in the Adriatic Sea, 118 bystanders were interviewed at the stranding site. In the proximity of decomposing or dismembered whale carcasses, almost 70% of the respondents expressed feelings of compassion and care for the animals, whereas only 4% reported non-compassionate attitudes. Additionally, between 2011 and 2013 we interviewed 246 artisanal fishers using bottom-set nets in Italy and Greece. Most fishers (88%) considered dolphins as vermin and reported gear depredation, with mean perceived losses ranging between €2,000 and 8,000 annually, depending on the area. However, few fishers (3–16%) listed dolphin killing as a possible solution. Furthermore, 60–80% of the fishers claimed dolphins to be "as intelligent as humans" or "more intelligent than humans". This evidence contributes to highlighting attitude shifts having occurred over the past decades, with a striking change of perceptions since the 1970s. This recent increased positive public perception and even awe of whales and dolphins can be coupled with ever-better knowledge of why populations are declining due to anthropogenic effects—including habitat degradation and wholesale decimation of food sources by factory fishing—hopefully resulting in better and more vigilant regulations to protect these animals.

11 April 2014

Bottlenose dolphin abundance in the Northern Evoikos Gulf, Greece

A poster presented at the 28th Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society in Liège, Belgium.

HERE you can download a larger copy of the poster.


Striped dolphins speed up in the late evening light.

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

10 April 2014

Dolphin in warm light

A bottlenose dolphin surfaces in a warm late evening light.

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

09 April 2014

Azorean whale watching boat

A whale watching boat in Vila Franca do Campo (isla São Miguel, Azores) gets ready for the high season.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

08 April 2014

Dolphin and coastal fish farm

A bottlenose dolphin photographed near a fish farm in the Northern Evoikos Gulf, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

03 April 2014

Whaling monument

A monument in Capelas, isla São Miguel, Azores, celebrates a past when whaling was an important component of the local economy (today, it has been replaced by whale watching).

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

02 April 2014

One more atypical mass stranding of Cuvier's beaked whales in Greece (SE Crete, Hellenic Trench) during military exercise

Message sent from Alexandros Frantzis to ECS-TALK@JISCMAIL.AC.UK

Tuesday 1 April 2014 20:43

Dear all,

Once more we have bad news regarding Cuvier's beaked whales in the Greek Seas. The local population unit, which has repeatedly been affected by naval sonar activity of NATO or of national navies in the past may be steadily heading towards its extinction.

Today 1st April 2014 between 12:00 and 13:30 pm at least five Cuvier's beaked whales stranded atypically so far in the area of Ierapetra, SE Crete. Three animals stranded together in the same location and two other individuals stranded together some 17 km further west. Two more individuals stranded as single individuals 2.7 km and 500 m further west along the coast, but there is no way to know if these were additional individuals or some of those already stranded earlier. All animals were alive when stranded. One of them died and all other were led offshore by local people and not seen again until now.

After a quick search in the internet we found that the Israeli, Greek and US Navy are conducting a trilateral two-week military exercises in the area of Crete (named Noble Dina 2014). The naval activity includes anti-submarine warfare (ASW), which indicates the use of military sonar, well known as the cause of many mass strandings of Ziphiids around the world.

During their 5th Meeting of the Parties (Morocco, November 2013) the Agreement for the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Mediterranean and Black Sea (ACCOBAMS) have for first time identified on a map the areas where sonar should be avoided in the Mediterranean Sea, and made this information publicly available. One of these areas on the map is SE Crete where the new mass stranding occurred.

A bit earlier we contacted competent Greek authorities including the Greek focal point of ACCOBAMS to inform them about the new mass stranding and to request their intervention, so that no use of military sonar is made during the exercise today and following days. The port-police authorities and local volunteers have been alerted and we just hope that tomorrow we won't find more animals along the coasts.

How many more whale deaths to spark real mitigation at the regional and international level?

Best wishes,

Dr. Alexandros Frantzis
Scientific director, Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute

Sperm whale police

The logo of maritime police divers in Vila Franca do Campo, isla São Miguel, Azores: a muscolar sperm whale.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

01 April 2014

Dolphin on Azorean boat

A funny (bottlenose?) dolphin on a boat in Vila Franca do Campo, isla São Miguel, Azores.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

On the beach

Two bottlenose dolphins patrolling the coast in the Northern Evoikos Gulf, Greece.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)