29 April 2018

Dolphins as seen by children

Dolphins as seen by primary school children. The individual on the bottom drawing is likely the Risso's dolphin nicknamed Yaya (based on scratching and absence of a rostrum). Here, Yaya seems to be playing with Cotylorhiza jellyfish (the species which is also depicted in the top drawing).

28 April 2018

Dolphin-fisheries interactions made simple

Depredation of fishing gear, incidental mortality in fishing gear, and dolphin decline caused by overfishing. The dolphin with a purse says "I'm going away".

Mariel's feedback

I think that the work you have chosen to study dolphins is very beautiful. It is wonderful that during the entire summer you travel around the world to recognise dolphins and whales from their dorsal fins. Then, you said that in the winter you study the photographs taken during the previous season to understand who is that dolphin or whale. To me it was a lecture suitable for children, because you did not use difficult words. I would like to thank you for providing me with this opportunity and I hope that when I grow up I will become like you. 
-- Mariel

27 April 2018

I don't feel well

I don't feel well thinking that some people put dolphins into pools, because they feel sick and cannot go where they want. I tell those who hold dolphins in captivity that they shouldn't do it anymore, and they should free those who have been caught. Silvia was great telling us her adventures at sea. When I grow up I would like to do her job, because I like the sea. I would like to tell you, Silvia and Giovanni, one more thing: both of you have been great!!
-- Matteo

26 April 2018

How children see us

As a follow up to our lectures in primary schools we received a wonderful book made by the children. It includes drawings as well as short stories. These two stunning drawings show "us" studying dolphins at sea.

(Our project Avvicinare il Mare is supported by OceanCare)

24 April 2018

Opportunistic foraging by seabirds

A tern and a seagull feeding on fish discarded by a trawler.

(Photos by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

23 April 2018

Giant smokestack

The giant smokestack of the now-dismissed thermoelectric factory of Porto Tolle, in the Po River delta, acts as a primary visual reference during our dolphin surveys in the NW Adriatic – especially when we are far offshore and there is nothing else in sight. The smokestack, 250 m high, is reportedly the tallest non-metallic structure of this kind in Italy.

(Photos by G. Bearzi, NW Adriatic Sea)

Sea of buoys

Mariculture off Chioggia, Italy.

There seems to be little information on the impacts of this kind of marine farming gear. These buoys are used for shellfish (mussel) farms situated offshore, e.g. see THIS LINK. Mussel farms are known to attract marine life, including marine organisms feeding on mussels or mussel fouling. A source of concern is represented by the discarded or lost nylon nets—called "reste"—used to contain and grow the mussels. Such ghost fishing gear represents a likely threat to marine life, besides adding to the overall plastic load of our seas.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, NW Adriatic Sea)

20 April 2018

Following a trawler

A group of bottlenose dolphins surface in a tight formation above a trawling net.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

19 April 2018


Getting ready for a morning survey.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

18 April 2018

Dolphins and Adriatic LNG Terminal

Two bottlenose dolphins surface about 2 nm away from the Adriatic LNG Terminal.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

17 April 2018

High bow

One of the bottlenose dolphins observed yesterday, performing a spectacular high bow near our inflatable.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

16 April 2018

Feeding behind Adriatic trawlers

Today we observed a group of about 20 bottlenose dolphins following a bottom trawler to feed inside the towed net, as well as on bycatch discarded by the fishers.

(Photos by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

11 April 2018

At the ECS conference in La Spezia, Italy

Silvia presenting her work at the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society.

(Photos by A. Scheinin)

06 April 2018

Predicting dolphin distribution within an Important Marine Mammal Area in Greece

Silvia is attending the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society in La Spezia, Italy (6-10 April 2018).

On Sunday she is going to make a verbal presentation, summarising our work on dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth. The abstract is copied below.

Predicting dolphin distribution within an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) in Greece to support spatial management planning

Bonizzoni S (1,2), Furey NB (1,3), Valavanis VD (4), Bearzi G (1,2)

1) Dolphin Biology and Conservation, Cordenons, Italy
2) OceanCare, W├Ądenswil, Switzerland
3) University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
4) Marine Geographic Information Systems Lab, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Iraklion, Greece

The success of a marine protected area depends on knowledge of distribution and habitat use by the species it aims to protect. The Gulf of Corinth, a 2400 km2 semi-enclosed embayment in Greece, has been identified as an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) based on the satisfaction of all four selection criteria for IMMA status. In this area, three odontocete species can be predictably encountered within 11 km of the nearest coast: striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba, common dolphins Delphinus delphis and common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. Striped dolphins occur in single-species groups or in mixed groups with common dolphins, whereas bottlenose dolphins only occur in single-species groups. We used a seven-year (2011–2017) dataset comprising 29907 km of boat-based visual surveys and 3448 km (590 h) of dolphin follows to predict striped and bottlenose dolphin distribution in the entire Gulf. Multiple geographic, bathymetric, oceanographic and anthropogenic variables were incorporated in a combined generalized additive model and generalized estimation equation framework (GAM-GEE) to describe dolphin occurrence and construct maps of predictive distributions. Modelling indicated that striped dolphins prefer deep (>300 m) oligotrophic waters in the central and southern part of the Gulf; bottlenose dolphins prefer shallow (<300 m) waters and areas close to fish farms along the northern-central shores. Spatial distribution of dolphin suitable habitats was predicted by using the retained variables identified in species-specific models. Prediction maps of dolphin distribution identified 1) a core dolphin habitat of approximately 1600 km2 (encompassing two thirds of the entire Gulf surface), and 2) a clear partitioning of striped and bottlenose dolphin distribution, calling for separate management measures within each species' core habitat, threatened by different anthropogenic impacts of concern. The results of this study can inform spatial management and ensure meaningful conservation action, consistent with IMMA designation.

Bonizzoni S., Furey N.B., Valavanis V.D., Bearzi G. 2018. Predicting dolphin distribution within an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) in Greece to support spatial management planning. Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. La Spezia, Italy, 6-10 April 2018.

I nostri amici DELFINI (since 1994)

Twenty-four years after its first edition for refugee children in Croatia, the booklet Our Friends the Dolphins is still popular.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

04 April 2018

Dolphin booklets in use

Today we distributed a bunch of our newly-printed dolphin booklets to primary school children, as a follow up to Silvia's presentation.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

Dolphins at primary school - 2

Silvia giving a dolphin lecture to primary school children.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

Dolphins at primary school - 1

Today's presentation at Istituto Comprensivo Alberto Manzi, Cordenons. We are grateful to Piera Franzo for inviting us.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)