31 August 2008

Advice for students

Do you have any advice for students hoping to become conservation scientists?

Jay Barlow:
You have to realize that there are more qualified people than there are jobs. You should look into what specializations are in short supply and target your education so that you can fill that gap. Don't expect the job to be fun. There is no more rewarding job, but like any job done well, it requires a lot of work and a lot of preparation, training, and education.

From Mongabay.com

30 August 2008

Kalamos, 24-30 August

Today is the last full day of our week-long session with Tethys here on the island of Kalamos in the Eastern Ionian Sea. The time has flown. By the same token, we have learned so much and have had so many new experiences that I already feel like a local, too. It is a nice and sleepy enclave here, and I like it like that!

Annalise and Silvia – two Italian researchers and our fearless leaders - run the program like pros. At 6:30am each day, they are up, setting out a simple breakfast of juice, tea, coffee, cereals and toast with Nutella. They put on a little Norah Jones or Jack Johnson around 6:45am and that is our little musical cue to GET OUT OF BED!!! It is a bit tough at first, but slowly you come out of the fog and remember why you are here (Hint: it is NOT just about the dolphins!). By 7:15am they are down at the boat, a motorized inflatable called ‘Megaloceto’ – The big cetacean! And by 7:30am, we are off across the bay, to check out a fish farm on the outskirts of Mytikas before heading out to open sea. To clarify who we are: I am here with Tommy and Lone, a couple from Denmark, and Zsuzsanna – a research assistant of Slovakian heritage who now hails from Hungary. The program can take up to five volunteers at a time, but this week, there are only three of us.

Our job: To help the researchers and staff to spot dolphins and other marine life (fish, sea turtles, birds, etc), observe them, and document them. This data helps scientists to understand not just dolphin behavior, but how these cetaceans figure into the larger landscape – the ecosystem of the Mediterranean and beyond. To do this work, we have had to learn new protocols ranging from using a stop watch and a palmtop to identifying different animals by the shapes and markings on their dorsal fins. Next, we group and match their photos on a computer and input all sorts of other data i.e. their aerial, percussive or stationary behavior, the presence of bird life, fish farms and other boats. It is mostly fascinating, sometimes painstaking but always important work.

Aside from this, there is house work: helping to cook, clean and tend to the boat. Still, there is time for a short swim here, a catnap there…. I do not mind the work; I do not even mind getting up so early. In fact, I have to say, I enjoy the rigors of this experience. I think it is important to remember that we are a team, that we are not here to vacation –and our chores reinforce these notions.

This is not a trip for everyone. It is only for those who love nature, who appreciate the scientific process, who seek to learn, who enjoy long days and hard work, and who believe in giving back. For such people, I highly recommend this incredibly rewarding experience. Though I only got to meet the Tethys’s president, Giovanni Bearzi, and the researcher Joan Gonzalvo, once, and though I still barely know Annalise and Silvia after five days, I know that my experience with Tethys and its mission is only just beginning. I feel inspired to do a lot more, to spread the word and to push for actions that will result in a cleaner, healthier, more sustainable habitat for dolphins, not to mention the rest of us mammals! For everyone else, there is always Mykonos! ;)

Kim, U.S.A.


Thank you very much for a wonderful week here on the island of Kalamos in the Ionian Sea. We really appreciate your hard work and dedication to save cetaceans and that you made it possible for us to experience the wonderful nature of common bottlenose dolphins and the short-beaked common dolphins. We need more people like you in this world. We have asked a lot of questions during the week, maybe too many, but nonetheless we feel like we know the world of the two species better than we did before arriving last Sunday. And that is of big importance for both of us.

Spreading the words of dolphins and other species, suffering from overfishing, human influence, and pollution, seems more important now than ever. We will for sure think twice about the consequences of our actions in our daily life in Denmark.
We have been fortunate to see dolphins three days in a row, two times around Kalamos and one time in the Amvrakikos Gulf. The team collected data, which we worked with during the week. Seeing the dolphins was of course a lovely experience, but analysing the data was really interesting as well. During the day there was also time for fun, having nice conversations together and learning about other cultures, like Italy, Hungary and New York. We can definitely recommend this project to other people interested in dolphins and hope to be back very soon.

Lone and Tommy, Denmark

28 August 2008

Talented young scientists: Jennifer Jacquet

Born and raised in Ohio, a state without oceans, Jennifer spent her childhood pining over manatees in the pages of the WWF magazine for children. As an undergraduate, Jennifer volunteered with the conservation vigilante Sea Shepherd International and, aboard the Sirenian, helped patrol the Galapagos Marine Reserve for illegal shark poaching. She was also an intern for the Florida Marine Research Institute studying those pined-over gentle giants: the manatees (the body of Fred Flintstone, the grace of Fred Astaire).

Jennifer joined the Sea Around Us Project to work on catch reconstructions for small-scale fisheries in the developing world (e.g. seafood security) and some aspects of the seafood market in the developed world (e.g. seafood eco-marketing). She also runs the Shifting Baselines weblog.

The portrait above and a list of publications by Jennifer Jacquet can be found in the UBC Fisheries Centre web site.

I particularly like Jennifer's most recent work, an impressively documented overview of the marine fisheries crisis with a wink at The Talking Heads:
Jacquet, J. In press. Silent Water: A Brief Examination of the Marine Fisheries Crisis. Environment, Development, and Sustainability.

Another of her interesting articles questions eco-labelling and its presumed advantages - definitely worth reading:
Jacquet, J. L. and D. Pauly. 2007. The rise of consumer awareness campaigns in an era of collapsing fisheries. Marine Policy 31: 308-313.

Giovanni Bearzi

27 August 2008

Cetacean Sanctuary Research, 11-17 August

Le message est clair, les baleines tout comme les dauphins disparaissent et il est de notre devoir d'agir pour stopper cette tendance qui nous mène actuellement vers une perte de leur magnifique patrimoine. Des gens comme Tethys, il y en a, mais pas assez alors à moi, à nous, participants, de faire suivre le message. Merci à Cathe, Alessia, Francesca, Eliza et leur Capitano Roberto, ainsi qu'à tous mes coéquipiers de voyage, j'qi vécu là de très beaux moments qui resteront gravés en moi à jamais.

Letitia, Belgium


Week two on board for me was just as amazing as the first, if not better due to the incredible sighting of three sperm whales in the same area. Watching and being so close to two of these fabulous creatures socialising together was an unforgettable experience. Once again, thanks to the researchers for all their hard work and dedication to this project, and for making the trip as enjoyable as possible for the participants. Despite a few days of bad weather and some seasickness the whole group it was fantastic and very good fun to be with! Grazie!

Clare, England


Grazie per questa bellissima esperienza che mi avete fatto vivere. Grazie per ciò che fate con i cetacei e per avermi dato la possibilità di saperne un po' di più al riguardo. Grazie per la lacrima che ho versato il primo giorno quando abbiamo visto le stenelle; grazie per la vostra semplicità e grazie per avermi accolto con sincera amicizia sin dal primo giorno. Grazie ad ognuna di voi per la vostra personalità, siete delle persone fantastiche. Grazie ai cetacei per la loro incredibile bellezza e per la loro presenza nei nostri mari.

Chiara, Italy


A bordo di Pelagos così come di Gemini e Jean Gab io ho vissuto alcuni dei momenti più indimenticabili della mia vita. Per me il mare significa molto con il suo potere magico di mettere sempre pace dentro la mia confusione, anche quando le persone più care non sanno come fare. E viverlo a presa diretta su imbarcazioni come queste non ha paragoni. Pelagos e le sue sorelle per me hanno rappresentato dei micro-mondi nei quali mi sono rifugiato nei momenti in cui ne avevo bisogno, quando volevo ritrovare un po' di pace o semplicemente quando tutto intorno a me sembrava andare nel verso sbagliato e l'unica cosa da fare era fermarsi, ascoltare a lungo dentro e fare qualcosa che veramente avesse senso, priva di quell'ipocrisia e di quell'inerzia che spesso accompagnano i nostri gesti quotidiani.

Luigi, Italy


Leider wissen wir nicht so recht wie wir damit anfangen sollen so eine schòne Woche in Worte zu fassen. Angefangen bei den tollen Sichtungen von Walen und Delfinen, zum guten Essen, hammer partys, einem risen Feuerwerk und vorallem der BESTEN CREW, die man sich vorlstellen kann. Ohne die Leute wàre es nur halb so schòn gewesen. Und wir sind froh das wir teil dieser Gruppe seien durften. Selbst wenn man irgendwelche Probleme hatte konnte man sich nicht besser aufgehoben fuehlen, denn es war immer eine liebe Person fuer einen zur stelle. Alle waren immer fuer einen Spass zu haben und nicht zu vergessen hatten wir einen wunderbaren Capitàn. Danke an alle, fuer die unvergessliche Reise. Thanks for this incredible trip, we couldnt have imagine a better crew, captain and people. Unfortunately it was too short. But hopefully we will meet sometime again!

Isabell and Isabel, Germany

26 August 2008

Playing the "numbers game"

Playing the "numbers game" is not good enough when it comes to identifying what species are at risk from extinction, says Nicolas Entrup from WDCS.

He argues that we need to re-evaluate how we decide what creatures need our help to survive.

Read the whole article and contribute your comments on BBC News online.

25 August 2008

How to write consistently boring scientific literature

Although scientists typically insist that their research is very exciting and adventurous when they talk to laymen and prospective students, the allure of this enthusiasm is too often lost in the predictable, stilted structure and language of their scientific publications....
Read on

Sand-Jensen, K. 2007. How to write consistently boring scientific literature. Oikos 116(5):723-727.

24 August 2008

Kalamos, 17-23 August

First of all, I have to thank you for your kindness and your smile even at 6:30AM, and your very ‘perfect’ social behaviour, the way you teach us your scientific protocol, which is very scary and well done. I shall remember it. You communicate perfectly not only your enthusiasm for dolphins but make us feel our responsibility as human beings. This experience was totally new and very complete, a new way to discover Greece not from the ‘sacred places’ and temples, like Delphi or Epidaure, but from an inflatable boat on the surface of the sea.

Brigitte, France


I want to tell you a beautiful story of a lucky boy. This lucky boy is me, Benjamin. I spent one week with seven girls, nice isn't it? These girls cooked very well and were very nice! That’s why you have to help them (Annalise and Silvia), you will spend one week with the sun, cute cats, a nice home and a beautiful sea. Oh!! I almost forget, with dolphins too!!! So now I’m going back home with a lot of things in my head about dolphins and women! Thanks for this adventure, it was really nice and I’m very happy to have seen so many dolphins.

Benjamin, France


I’d like to thank the Tethys crew. I spent a lovely week in a paradise without tourists, but with really cute cats. Also seeing dolphins so close to me was an experience I won’t forget. You know what they are able to do, but when it happens 5 meters from you it’s completely different. Even if you have to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning and wait for the first dolphin it’s nothing compared to how you feel when you leave Kalamos. But it’s not only about watching dolphins, it’s also about their problems and eventually you realise how dolphins are in a bad situation. This lets you think about these wonderful animals and their future.

Alice, France (16 years old)


Mum of the two children above... I'm so happy about my week! A dream came true and it opened my mind towards a new personal project in the years to come... so thanks a lot Annalise, Silvia and Kelsea. Your knowledge is very interesting and you have also so many human qualities!

Catherine, France

Drawing by Giovanni Bearzi

23 August 2008

And we are adrift

With a turn of key the engine cuts out and we are adrift. After hours with the steady rumble of the trusty Selva 100, we all welcome the quiet. Finally the glassy complexion of the sea is matched by the erie silence in the air. The only disturbance now is the fierce sun beating down on our shoulders.

A few minutes pass and we glance around, bodies still tense from hours of survey followed by concentration on the various tasks of data collection. Just as our anticipation peaks, it comes; the powerful jet of air signaling the exhale of a dolphin nearby. Within seconds several more full exhalations breach the quiet and though unaware we each mimic the action. A long deep exhale allowing our tension to fade. Simultaneously smiles break across our faces as easily as the dolphins broached the quiet water.

Moments of peace like these were welcomed during the six weeks I spent with the Ionian Dolphin Project in Episkopi. The days were busy, filled with the training of new volunteers from various European countries who would then head to the sea with us every morning to assist with research. The team here also found time to inform the volunteers of the tough situation in the area surrounding Kalamos Island. It is a grim life for these charismatic creatures and the beautiful environment they inhabit.

But for me, to see such a dedicated people working for change brings admiration and the desire to help. To know that this team of researchers, little by little, are helping to spread this knowledge throughout the world brings hope for the future. Thank you to all the people who made this such a unique and amazing experience!!

Kelsea Peterman

Photo: Kelsea at the IDP field station, showing the dorsal fins used for training purposes (to learn how to record dolphin surfacing intervals).

22 August 2008

Cetacean Sanctuary Research, 4-10 August

My first week out of 3 on board has been fantastic! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but found it easy enough to settle into the daily routine. One of the many highlights of the week was definitely seeing sperm whales on three separate days, they are such fascinating creatures. It was also wonderful to see lots of striped dolphins, especially when they raced alongside our bow! I really appreciated the hard work that the researchers put into the lectures, which I found very interesting and a good follow-up to the days events. I enjoyed being able to take part in collecting the data and listening to the hydrophone. I have also learnt a few words of Italian and hope to learn some more in the next two weeks! Although most of the people on board were Italian on this particular trip, their effort to translate has been brilliant and I am very thankful! I have great respect and admiration for the overall dedication and enthusiasm of the team, which made the trip such an amazing experience. Thank you so much!

Clare, England


During my two weeks with Tethys, I have been amazed at the amount of passion and enthusiasm of the team. It is so refreshing to see people who really believe in their work and want to make a difference in the world. I had the pleasure of sighting many animals including striped and Risso's dolphins as well as fin and sperm whales (what a lucky two weeks I had!), which all were fantastic to watch in their natural environments. Life on board was a lot of fun too. Everyone has been so friendly and welcoming, I wish you all the best of luck in the future with your research and thanks once again for everything!

Marta, England

19 August 2008

Dolphins of Greece, 10-19 August

Five female teachers all lucky enough to gain a place on a trip of a lifetime. May I just say what a great time we all had researching dolphins here in Vonitsa.

Susie was great, sweet, pretty and patient, Joan has wit, humour, sarcasm and very cheeky/sexy smile (and he knows it!). On a more serious side, he has focus and drive, always wanting us to get the most out of the experience. Giovanni, polite, quiet and obviously the brain behind the whole thing... and then we mustn’t forget Posi the dog who just brings the whole big happy family together!

The hospitality was excellent, the food delicious, the company great, the dolphins incredible and the overall experience is one not to be forgotten.

I think I can speak for us all, in that we have learnt a lot, in a beautiful place and from three people who were all great to be around (7am in the morning wasn’t necessarily the best time), but still, there was never a moment when we weren’t made to feel at home and welcomed...

The work being done is essential and it is great to meet people who are so passionate about what they do. I just wish that everyone could see what we are doing to our land and seas and try to do their own bit to help... admiration to you all.

Kiko, Kirsty, Ruth, Lesley and Rachel (U.K.)

18 August 2008

Cetacean Alliance - Species

The web site of Cetacean Alliance includes a section on cetacean populations living in the Mediterranean that may be of interest to Tethys blog readers.

The section is growing and now includes 22 pages with information on ongoing studies by members of the Alliance - from sperm whales in the Hellenic Trench to bottlenose dolphins in Slovenia coastal waters.

At the bottom of each species page it is possible to download key publications on the local populations of whales and dolphins living in that particular Mediterranean area.

Cetacean Alliance - Species

17 August 2008

Kalamos, 10-16 August

Many thanks to the nice and dynamic team of Episkopi. We got a good mix of education, active participation to the project and sports. Good food (and wine)… And happiness! It is sad to see that the trend for conservation is not good. This is not a surprise though. It is of course your involvement and passion that could make the difference locally. But this is also our commitment to spread your message back home among family, friends and colleagues. We shall overcome from Alaska, Belgium, France, Italy, Greece if we decide to act together positively…

Eric, France

Photo: the IDP team in question (Annalise, Kelsea and Silvia)

13 August 2008

How to Photograph Dolphins in the Wild

"I am very fortunate that my job allows me to spend time filming and photographing the lives of whales and dolphins (...) I thought I would share some tips about photographing dolphins in the wild.

This can be useful to people going whale or dolphin watching. It may also help researchers take better images through their photo-identification work."

-- Chris Johnson

Photo: Chris Johnson / earthOCEAN


Learn from Chris how to take better photos of dolphins and whales at sea:

How to Photograph Dolphins in the Wild


View some of the best photos taken by Tethys personnel during Mediterranean research campaigns (Flash Video with music):

Tethys Photo Show

12 August 2008

Artisanal fisheries in Andros, Greece

Tethys researchers Joan Gonzalvo and Giovanni Bearzi recently visited the Greek island of Andros, in the northern Cyclades, and had extensive talks with the President of the Fishermen's Union for Southern Aegean, Dimitris Zannes, and with other local fishermen.

The situation in Andros seems to be similar to the one documented by Tethys during the study conducted in the waters around the Ionian island of Kalamos: industrial overfishing by purse seiners and trawlers reportedly has depleted the local fish stocks.

Mr. Dimitris Zannes said that when he was a kid he could choose whether following in the steps of his father, who was a fishermen, or doing some other job. However, Dimitris lamented that his son won't have such an option. Artisanal fishermen no longer can make a living out of the sea.

The artisanal fishermen of Andros also have problems with dolphins (most likely bottlenose dolphins) causing damage to their nets. However, they asserted that industrial overfishing and the resulting damage to marine ecosystems is by far their main problem.

Giovanni Bearzi

Photo: Dimitris Zannes, President of the Fishermen's Union for Southern Aegean (right), shows to Joan Gonzalvo (left) damage caused by dolphins to trammel nets.

10 August 2008

Dolphins of Greece, 1-9 August

Thank you to Fund For Teachers who paid for our expedition, Earthwatch Institute who connected us with the project and Tethys Research Institute for establishing the research. Thank you to Giovanni, Joan and Suzanna for welcoming us into your home and teaching us so much about teamwork, scientific method and conservation. I can’t wait to teach what I have learned to my students and colleagues. We will keep in touch and share any materials we create (curriculum, videos, student-created products and presentations) as a result of this experience.

On a personal level, I think you are very special people and I feel very fortunate to have met you. I will never forgot you and you will always hold a special place in my heart.

With sincere appreciation,

Amy, USA (Maine)


I think it is fair to say that we have been a most compatible group of volunteers. It has made for not only the most awe inspiring encounter of a wild species of animal but also contributed to a fun, relaxing, rigorous, demanding at times, and hugely entertaining experience. We have shared the most memorable adventure. From dolphin sightings, and feeling a part of a larger piece of the universe, to the conversations about culture, science, conservation, global stewardship, preserving life as we know it, social attitudes, and just life.

I believe that all people should travel abroad because it makes people more humble, less self important, and more compassionate for others, and now after this experience with this very passionate, knowledgeable, team of cetacean scientists I also believe that people should have the experience of observing a wild species because it allows one to see firsthand the connectedness of all life on this planet. What we do to one species will have a ripple effect on others. We cannot play with this delicate balance of nature!

With much gratitude and fondness,

Marcia, USA (Maine)


I have experienced and seen so much in my life that I never thought that anything or anyone could surpass it. Oh how very wrong I was.

My first day in Greece (Vonitsa) was like falling in love all over again. The culture, food and the people’s attitude towards life was an eye opener for me. Being the only Asian, I felt “special”. Joan and his “little grasshopper” (Suzana aka “what are u doing Suzie”) linked up with us and we were guided to Palace Tethys. From day 1 the group “clicked”.

The 2nd day we went out to sea and from that day onwards everything exploded. We saw the record number of dolphins sighted this year and it just improved day in day out. Throughout the expedition we had so many brilliant sightings of dolphins, sea turtles and ate delicious food (like mama makes it back home). We laughed, shared stories about our country and culture, we shared beer, we shared task, we protected each other the way a female dolphin would protect her calf. We were ONE.

From the bottom of my heart I thank the King of the Palace, Giovanni, though injured, never failed to join us for discussions and made himself readily available when we needed him. General Joan, was different. We could not get rid of him. His regimental orders (humorous thou) made me feel at home and it helped me get through being away from my daughter. His constant battle plans (transect) kept me on my toe. His daily lectures opened up a new and priceless chapter in my life. Private Suzie was simply adorable. Whatever I let slip from my hands, she caught it.

My hats off to Giovanni, Joan and Suzie. I have learnt so much these 9 days and I say THANK YOU!!! Your passion towards the conservation of life is beyond words, kudos my friends. To my new found American friends - Marcia, Amy, Sarah and Saagar, remember me as the funny one and not the one that woke you up 9 days in a row. LOVE U GUYS!!!

Jesse, Singapore


The beauty about words is that they give us the ability to communicate an experience to our friends and family so they can share the good times that we have. However, words cannot do justice to the experience that I had here in Vonitsa; it was beyond anything that I could have ever imagined.

These past nine days were more than I could have ever hoped for. From the start to the end, I loved every second of my experience with not only the dolphins, which were beyond spectacular, but also with the staff. I want to go up to Joan, Dr. Bearzi, and Suzanna (little Suzi) and give them all a big hug thanking them for giving me an experience of a lifetime. My heart goes out to you guys for your passion, your drive, and, most importantly, your love for the dolphins. You guys have shown me the value of preserving this amazing cetaceans, and for that, words cannot express how thankful I am.

I want to thank my friends, Marcia, Jesse, Amy, and Sarah. I have been traveling all my life and been part of many groups, but I have to say that you guys are the best group I have ever had, no exaggeration. I have never been with a group that shared so much enthusiasm towards learning not only about the fieldwork that goes in cetacean preservation, but also about the value and caring towards Mother Nature. Thanks for a great nine days that we spent together.

Apart from the great sightings we had at sea, the amazing food that we ate, and even that glorious trip to Lefkada, I cannot think of anything else that could have made the time more amazing. Thank you all for a glorious experience. I wish you nothing but the best!

Saagar, USA (Massachusetts)


I signed up for this expedition with very little expectations. I wanted to travel to a different country, see some dolphins and go on an adventure. I thought my adventure began and ended in Vonitsa, Greece, but I was wrong. My adventure is just beginning. I have learned so much about dophins, sea life, the world and mysef the past nine days and I can’t wait to share everything with my family, friends and students. I am going home with a bigger heart and I owe it all to Amy, Saagar, Marcia, Jesse, Joan, Suzie, Giovanni and of course the dolphins. You made me feel like I was at home even though I was thousands of miles away from Boston. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!

Sarah, USA (Massachusetts)

09 August 2008

Kalamos, 3-9 August

WOOOOOOOOO!!! We have had an amazing time!!! Everything surpassed our extremely high expectations and we are leaving with so much more than a volunteer research expedition. We had an eclectic mix of people in our team as well as superb researchers/skippers... Silvia, Annalise and Kelsea!

We immediately felt at home in this beautiful house and breathtaking environment with small remote Greek villages and gorgeous lush beaches… we felt rather spoilt! We learnt languages from Italian, Portuguese, German.. and perhaps a little Greek... oh and we learnt to conduct dolphin research as well :p

On a serious note this trip has been nothing short of perfection, there is nothing any of us would change and we would have gladly spent more time here… hereon after all trips will have gigantic shoes to fill – the bar has been raised! If you are reading this now and wondering whether this project is the right one for you all we can advise is: BOOK NOW!!! You will not regret it… All our love from the best IDP team ever:

Pria (U.K.), Birgit (Germany), Margarida (Portugal), Max (Italy), Francisco (Portugal)

Drawing by Pria, portraying the volunteers and the research team during a sighting (!)

08 August 2008

Our Friends the Dolphins in Turkish

Our Friends the Dolphins now also available in Turkish !

This new version was translated courtesy of Fethi Bengil, Zeynep Derya Yıldırım, Harun Güçlüsoy – SAD.

Enduring goal of the author, Giovanni Bearzi, is to translate his booklet in more languages, so that this little educational tool can be enjoyed by as many kids as possible.

The booklet is now available in ten languages: Arabic, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Portuguese, Slovene, Spanish and Turkish.

Everything has been done on a volunteer basis (drawings, text, design, translation, web management etc.)

To see the new Turkish version: Our Friends the Dolphins

07 August 2008

CSR: Avvistamento numero 100

Sighting number: 98. Così si era conclusa la nona settimana di ricerca nelle acque del Santuario. La crociera successiva è quindi cominciata con una nota di colore: sapevamo che avremmo probabilmente effettuato l'avvistamento numero cento che, come da tradizione, a bordo di Pelagos viene celebrato con un brindisi e una torta preparata a bordo sulla quale viene scritto ‘100’.

Durante la giornata di martedì abbiamo incontrato un gruppo di stenelle striate: avvistamento 99. Col passare delle ore, raggiunta l'area pelagica, partecipanti e ricercatori hanno continuato ad alternarsi alla ricerca di spruzzi e pinne, ma soprattutto cresceva l'aspettativa di scorgere il soffio di una balenottera. Erano circa le 5 del pomeriggio quando Adriana, che era di turno, ha visto in lontananza la classica nuvola di vapore alta e stretta. Allora anche Alessia ed io siamo salite sulla tuga col binocolo a scrutare l'orizzonte in tutte le direzioni.

Dopo qualche minuto ho visto chiaramente il soffio e il dorso di una balenottera comune che spariva in un mare che a quell'ora iniziava a diventare sempre più scuro. Ci siamo avvicinati al punto dove l'animale si era immerso e lì ci siamo fermati, con tutto l'equipaggio impegnato a scrutare la superficie in attesa dell'emersione.

Abbiamo spiegato ai partecipanti che questi grandi cetacei rimangono sott'acqua tra i 10 e 20 minuti e che, se sono alla ricerca delle loro prede, riemergono vicino al punto in cui si sono immersi. Il tempo però passava e dopo mezz’ora ancora nessuna traccia. Le probabilità di ritrovare l'animale iniziavano a diminuire. Allora Roberto, comandante di Pelagos e grande conoscitore di cetacei, ha suggerito di percorrere una spirale quadra partendo dal punto di immersione della balenottera - la stessa tecnica che si utilizza per recuperare gli uomini caduti in mare.

Abbiamo quindi iniziato a percorrere transetti perpendicolari fra loro, che si allargavano sempre di più, ed ecco il tanto atteso blow: la balenottera è emersa poco lontano dalla barca e tutti i partecipanti hanno potuto apprezzarne le dimensioni e sentire il suono profondo del suo respiro. Siamo riusciti a fotoidentificarla e a seguirne i movimenti per circa un'ora. Al termine della raccolta dati abbiamo lasciato l'animale e, alla luce di un tramonto che tingeva di rosso il mare e la barca, l'equipaggio si è tuffato in acqua per un bagno rigenerante.

Dopo cena abbiamo mangiato la torta e nel silenzio e nel buio dell'area pelagica, dove il mare piatto ci ha permesso di passare la notte alla cappa, abbiamo potuto festeggiare il centesimo bellissimo avvistamento della stagione.

Elisa Remonato

06 August 2008

Cetacean Sanctuary Research, 28 July - 03 August

Fantastic week! I loved everything so much - wonderful people, amazing Pelagos boat, lots of interesting discoveries, unbelievable luck with meeting such a variety of different animals and very bright emotions you can never feel anywhere else: night shifts under star cover, lonely boat in sea sunrise and mid-day sunny breeze, exciting bow-riding of dolphins and open sea “bagni”, lessons and films uncovering conservation essence and making me to really think about the current situation of nature. Dear Team, thank you very much for all the knowledge, care, passion and dedication you have shared this week. I have learned a lot from you and this trip has definitely changed me. Good luck in all you do and see you next time!

Katya, Ucraine


E' stata la mia prima esperienza di una crociera studio e, rimarrà sempre nella mia mente. Ho vissuto momenti magici pieni di contenuti umani, scientifici, emozionali. Non è così facile essere contemporaneamente attorniato da natura, professionisti, amici; sì perché l'alto contenuto scientifico è stato proposto nel modo migliore: in modo semplice per non addetti ai lavori, senza togliere niente alla vacanza, coinvolgendo i partecipanti e come lo si potrebbe proporre ad amici di vecchia data. Anche i partecipanti hanno giocato un ruolo molto importante: ci siamo incontrati per la prima volta e giorno per giorno siamo diventati sempre più amici, il tutto riscontrabile in una sempre più stretta collaborazione. Devo per questo ringraziare tutti: staff, partecipanti, organizzazione e naturalmente l'Istituto Tethys. E' stata la prima esperienza ma, sicuramente , ne seguiranno altre. Grazie a tutti!

Giuseppe, Italy


These past two weeks have been an unforgettable experience - the people I've met, the things I've seen, and everything I've learned will stay with me forever. I admit, I was a little nervous before I came because it was my first time in a new country by myself, and I barely knew a word of Italian. But the amazing researchers and skipper, along with all of the wonderful participants, made me feel right at home. This trip has taught me so much about cetaceans, a topic about which I knew very little about prior to the trip. I have so much admiration for the researchers, who work extremely hard and are always very enthusiastic. I really valued the lessons and the found the videos we watched to be very informative, a part of the program which I hope is continued. The Tethys crew provided me with a wonderful introduction to the world of cetacean conservation which I plan on learning more about in the future. Thanks for the memories, and much love -

Rachel, USA

05 August 2008

Tethys milleusi

Tetidi tuttofare - molto richiesti in Alto Adige :-)

articolo consigliato da Maddalena Jahoda

(click sull'immagine per ingrandire)

04 August 2008

Tethys partecipa alla spedizione di Greenpeace nel Santuario Pelagos

Il primo di agosto è partita da Olbia la spedizione organizzata da Greenpeace per una verifica dello stato di salute del Santuario Pelagos. Simone Panigada, Vice presidente di Tethys, si è imbarcato sull’Arctic Sunrise, lo storico rompighiaccio di Greenpeace, insieme a un'equipe di scienziati e osservatori di istituzioni scientifiche.

Obiettivo principale della campagna, coordinata dall'Istituto Tethys, dall'Università di Siena e dall'IRPA (ex ICRAM), è effettuare una valutazione complessiva delle condizioni di salute dei cetacei, soprattutto balenottere comuni e stenelle striate, nel settore occidentale del Santuario.

Greenpeace effettuerà anche il conteggio della plastica e degli oggetti galleggianti alla deriva, monitorerà il traffico navale e preleverà campioni di acqua per successive analisi batteriologiche che possano indicare la presenza di idrocarburi, che saranno poi analizzati dal Laboratorio di Ricerca della Federazione di Damanhur e dal Dipartimento di Chimica dell'Università di Torino.

Greenpeace chiede un Piano di Gestione che affronti e risolva le minacce che gravano sul Santuario, dalla pesca illegale all'inquinamento, dal traffico navale ai rumori che allontanano i cetacei. Secondo l'associazione ambientalista "invece di tutelare il Santuario, Italia, Francia e Monaco continuano a perdere tempo - ad esempio la Francia ha fatto ricorso alla Corte di Giustizia dell'UE, perdendo la causa, per difendere la sua flottiglia di reti derivanti, mentre l'Italia aveva autorizzato nel Santuario un sito industriale offshore, il rigassificatore di Livorno, che per fortuna è stato bloccato."

La campagna si concluderà a Genova il 12 agosto.

Photo: Greenpeace

03 August 2008

Quando avvenne l’avvistamento

Quando avvenne l’avvistamento eravamo tutti all’erta. Il mare era perfetto, quasi non c’erano onde e il gommone avanzava rapido senza scossoni. Il nostro desiderio di vedere i delfini era accresciuto dal non essere riusciti a vederne nessuno il giorno precedente. Ci alzammo molto presto la mattina e con gran fretta perché qualcuno ci disse di aver visto dei delfini vicino a riva. Tutti corremmo al gommone dopo una rapida colazione. All’inizio non trovammo nulla ma poco lontano dal molo vedemmo qualcosa stagliarsi in lontananza. Già, quella fu una cosa emozionantissima, ma il bello doveva ancora venire. Tutti fremevamo sul gommone così ci avvicinammo. L’emozione fu grande ed è quasi impossibile comprenderla per chi ha visto un delfino solo in foto o in cartolina, come me prima d’allora. E’ una sensazione bellissima, si è così vicini da riuscire a sentire il respiro dei delfini, tra loro c’erano un giovane e un tenerissimo cucciolo con la madre. Mentre eravamo con i delfini vedevamo salti spettacolari tutto intorno a noi ed ogni volta prendevamo qualche appunto. I delfini erano così vicini al gommone che sembrava bastasse mettere una mano in acqua per toccarli. Ho avuto l’impressione che anche loro ci stessero osservando da sotto le onde e che si stessero chiedendo con curiosità chi fossimo. Dopo lo stupore di iniziare ci siamo tutti dati molto da fare. Ognuno aveva un compito preciso e lo svolgeva con decisione e determinazione. C’era chi guidava il gommone, chi cercava altri delfini con il binocolo, chi cronometrava le immersioni, chi fotografava le pinne dorsali dei delfini per poi poterli riconoscere ed infine che raccoglieva altri dati, come la posizione GPS, e chi li appuntava su particolari schede. Abbiamo passato due ore fantastiche con i delfini e ricorderò per sempre questa magnifica esperienza.

Giulio (14 anni), Roma
Kalamos, 27 luglio - 2 agosto

02 August 2008

Oceana and Tethys meet in Piraeus

On July 31st, 2008, Tethys President Giovanni Bearzi was invited on board Oceana’s ship MarViva Med in the port of Piraeus, Greece.

Giovanni was welcomed by Xavier Pastor, Executive director of Oceana Europe and coordinator of the MarViva Med 2008 expedition, together with Oceana’s marine scientists María José Cornax and Patricia Lastra.

During a very pleasant meeting the group discussed issues such as illegal driftnetting, the impact of overfishing on marine ecosystems, and the most effective strategies of addressing these problems and communicating them to the general public and the institutions.

The meeting ended with a strong sense of unity and friendship. Oceana and Tethys literally were embarqued ‘on the same ship’, sharing the same committment, passion and sense of urgency in the often-frustrating struggle to prevent the devastation of marine ecosystems.

(Photo by Oceana)

01 August 2008

Cetacean Sanctuary Research, 21-27 July

These past two weeks have been superb! What a great experience it has been to meet others from around the globe. It is wonderful to be able to interact with different people with common environmental interests.

The research team was very helpful in sharing their knowledge of cetaceans and the marine environment. They have proven how necessary their work is in their effort to protect cetaceans in order to maintain the environment’s biodiversity. The lessons were informative and I enjoyed participating in data collection and other tasks.

In addition, Roberto is a wonderful captain! Much appreciation for his patience in sharing his extensive knowledge of navigation.

Thanks for the opportunity to have been part of the research which will hopefully have an effect in protecting the environment and the many wonderful species resident to this area. In the end, I can honestly say I am sad to leave. Thank again to the participants, research team and Roberto for the many unforgettable memories I will be taking with me.

Daniela , USA


La semaine sur ce bateau fut très enrichissante. Merci pour votre patience, votre écoute, et tout ce que vous nous avez appris. Une façon de vous remercier sera de rependre cet apprentissage autour de nous, chez les grands comme chez les petits.
Merci encore,
L’équipe scoute « Bonne Aventure»

Isoline, Juliette, Aurelien, Elise, Claire et Capucine, France.


Afgelopen week aan boord van Pelagos was opnieuw een geweldige ervaring. Ik wil jullie allemaal bedanken voor de bijzondere week. Naast dat ik veel plezier heb gehad heb ik veel geleerd over het leven van de cetacean in de Middelandse zee. Het heeft mij weer laten inzien hoe belangrijk het is om onze natuur en in het bijzonder het leven in de zee te beschermen. De schoonheid van de walvissen en dolfijnen is groot maar hun kwetsbaarheid ook.
Thanks again for a really good week, go on in this way!!!

Marlon, The Nederlands


Vielen Dank fuer die schoene Woche die leider viel zu schnell vergangen ist! Es war wirklich schoen und super interessant! Ich hoffe das ich naechstes Jahr wieder kommen kann!
Also tausend Dank und bis naechstes jahr!

Melanie, Austria


Una settimana è stata sufficiente per affezionarmi a tutto ciò e con grande dispiacere domani finisce. E’ stata una delle più belle esperienze che io abbia mai fatto, resa ancora più interessante e favolosa grazie al gruppo che si è creato. Spiegare la sensazione nel vedere questi incredibili e misteriosi animali e il contatto continuo con il mare è molto difficile, si è travolti da numerose indescrivibili emozioni.

Un ringraziamento grandissimo va alle fantastiche ragazze che collaborano a questo progetto. Grazie per averci trasmesso la vostra passione, per averci coinvolto, grazie per averci fatto comprendere tante cose importanti che forse prima sottovalutavamo…grazie di cuore! Spero un giorno di poter collaborare o potervi rincontrare ancora in una favolosa esperienza come questa passata insieme. Un grandissimo in bocca al lupo per tutto e ancora mille grazie.

Silvia, Italy