20 June 2008

Only in June

At Kalamos, it can only happen in June.

Only then can you wake up in the morning of a beautiful sunny day, with a magnificent view of the islands. But there is a little wind, all it takes to make spotting dolphins difficult at sea.

It can only happen in June that the sea conditions change within minutes, leaving us to abandon our transect and escape to an ad libitum route, which means that we continue navigating outside the survey tracks. We direct our path towards the sheltered south of Lefkada and finally we find some flat sea surface. For an hour we navigate on a perfect sea, concentrating on dolphin search. Unfortunately we can find no dolphins and after patrolling the entire area, we decide to head back.

It only happens in June that we cross paths with an English yacht; a large and beautiful sailing boat with uniformed crew and captain. And there is something strange. The visitors on the boat are all standing up, dressed in their funny coloured hats. The crew all situated at the stern and the captain hands not on the rudder. They sighted something!

We stop our boat immediately and begin scanning the sea surface, our hearts racing faster with each passing second. Within two minutes there is the shout we were all waiting to hear: OUT! One fin. No... two fins!

It can only happen in June that the strange behaviour of a beautiful yacht allows us to find one of the rarest dolphin species in the central Mediterranean - two magnificent common dolphins. And not just any two common dolphins, but NIGEL and her son! We all shout and give each other a big hug! What a wonderful encounter!

We had met NIGEL last year in September. She was with three other adults, as well as her own newborn. Mortality is really high in the first year of life (even 50%). The former resident and previously abundant common dolphin community living around Kalamos has shown a continuous decline in the recent years, most likely due to the intensive exploitation of local fish stocks. So this encounter is really important because NIGEL-SON4, the fourth son of NIGEL, is still alive and apparently in good conditions (see the video) after one year.

This gives us new hope that it’s not too late for changing our destructive behaviour and making the Mediterranean a better place to live, for all species.

Marina Costa, Shiva Javdan and Marcel Clusa

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