30 November 2008

Tethys courses 2009

The Tethys Research Institute has been running field courses on Mediterranean whales and dolphins since 1990.

Many hundreds of participants from all nationalities have reported unforgettable experiences with these animals in their natural environment, while also substantially contributing to research and conservation efforts.

The new programmes for the incoming season of field courses have been recently updated, with detailed information on the two projects in the Pelagos Sanctuary (Italy) and in the Gulf of Corinth (Greece).

For more information:

Tethys courses 2009

29 November 2008

It’s not so simple

We sometimes think that, to save a cetacean species, the only thing we need to do is to completely and quickly remove the main threat. However, reality often presents a higher degree of complexity.

Filmmaker Chris Johnson of earthOCEAN recently interviewed Catalina Lopez Sagástegui of Noroeste Sustentable (NOS), a non-governmental organization that deals with conflict resolution in conservation. Catalina is a marine biologist specialized in the vaquita, the small cetacean threatened by gillnets in Mexico. She explains very well why this conservation issue is more complex than we may think.

“It’s very simple to say We need to get gillnets out of the water... True, this is the quickest way to save the vaquita, but behind that there’s so many different issues that you have to look at...”

In this 5 minutes interview, Catalina reports her experience working on vaquita conservation over the last couple of years, what her organization is trying to do and the pulse of local community.

Have a look !

Silvia Bonizzoni



22 November 2008

Lucky penguins

What is really remarkable here isn't the penguins avoiding orca attacks, but rather the fact that orcas did not attack the inflatable to feast on pinguins and humans...


P.S. forget abut the music...

20 November 2008

Amazing photos

Amazing underwater photos of common dolphins, sharks and birds feasting on sardines off the South African coast.

Absolutely wonderful!

Don't miss them, have a look!

18 November 2008

Pesca illegale sul sito di Report

Chi non ha potuto vedere il servizio di Sabrina Giannini / Report sulla pesca illegale in Italia può farlo online cliccando su questo link.

Ne vale la pena.

16 November 2008

From a cetacean point of view

Have you ever wondered how it feels being a cetacean?

Some footage taken by swimming whales can be seen on the web site of Dr. Robin Baird

Thanks to a crittercam system attached to the animal with a suction cup, which rotates to face into the direction the animal is swimming, Dr. Baird and his team are studying the diving behaviour of cetaceans in Hawaiian waters.

Have a look at this amazing footage! You will see false killer whales, short-finned pilot whales, and oceanic white-tip sharks.

Silvia Bonizzoni

For more information:

15 November 2008

A mini-helicopter for studying whales

Dr. Karina Acevedo-Whitehouse (Post-doctoral Research Fellow at the Zoological Society of London), found out a new way to study disease in whales.

Forget about samples taken from stranded, dead or captive animals and think about a 3.5 feet-long helicopter! This small remotely-controlled machine flies over the whale as it surfaces to breathe expelling air through its blow hole. At that time, gases and mucus blown out are collected in sterile Petri dishes attached to the mini-helicopter, and are then examined to see whether the animal is carrying any disease.

The new research method has been tested in the Gulf of California and off the western coasts of Baja California.

Silvia Bonizzoni

For more information:
Mini-helicopter used to test whale health

14 November 2008

Action Plans for cetacean conservation in Syria and Lebanon

Between the 29th of October and the 6th of November, Tethys researcher Joan Gonzalvo visited Syria and Lebanon in the context of the preparation of National Action Plans for the Conservation of Cetaceans. The initiative has been coordinated and funded by ACCOBAMS and the RAC/SPA.

At the beginning of March Joan had already spent one week in Syria to gather the necessary information for the preparation of an Action Plan, which was handed-in last June. The document was co-authored by Giovanni Bearzi, President of Tethys.

In his most recent visit to Syria, Joan presented this Action Plan to Syrian authorities and stakeholders, during an event organized by the Syrian Society for the Conservation of Wildlife and aimed to explore the best ways of implementing the actions included in the Plan.

Then Joan moved to Lebanon to attend a series of meetings with Lebanese authorities and fishermen representatives and to participate in a workshop at the Lebanese Ministry of Agriculture, organized by the National Centre of Marine Sciences, to gather the information needed for the preparation of the Action Plan for Cetaceans in Lebanon. The workshop was extremely successful.

The development of cetacean research and conservation actions in these two countries of the Middle East offers a unique opportunity to get insight on the situation of whales and dolphins in a region where almost no information on cetaceans is available.

A first version of the Action Plan for the conservation of cetaceans in Lebanon will be submitted at the end of January 2009.


Photo: Joan Gonzalvo interviewing artisanal fishermen in the port of Tyr (Lebanon)

13 November 2008

Pesca illegale

Da non perdere la prossima puntata di Report dedicata alla pesca illegale:

MARE NOSTRUM di Sabrina Giannini

In onda domenica 16 novembre 2008 alle 21.30.

Il nostro è un paese circondato dal mare che importa il 70 per cento del pesce che consuma. E' la conseguenza di una fallimentare gestione del mare che per due decenni ha consentito uno sfruttamento delle risorse oltre ogni limite. Che ha tollerato e tollera numerose forme di illegalità. Nulla di ciò che accade sarebbe consentito se venisse fatto sulla terra ferma: bracconaggio travestito da pesca sportiva, pesca indiscriminata praticata a ridosso della costa che non permette ai pesci di raggiungere l'età della riproduzione, norme e cavilli che consentono da anni l'uso di reti proibite. Il fatto è che in tutto il mondo il pesce è in esaurimento e intere economie stanno pian piano collassando. Ma tutto questo avviene lontano dalle nostre tavole, dove il pesce continua ad essere un cibo a buon mercato, e per questo ne consumiamo molto. Nessun cartellino del prezzo o nessun menù però riporta il “costo”, molto più elevato di quel che crediamo.


08 November 2008

Succede che il mare

Succede di avere la presunzione di conoscere e capire il mare soltanto per il numero di anni trascorsi sui libri, a studiare. Succede di buttarsi nel lavoro a capofitto, di perdersi dietro a teorie e modelli statistici, rischiando di perdere di vista la semplicità dei fatti. Succede poi che la soluzione a un dato problema venga semplicemente dalla capacità di ascoltare e osservare il mare e i suoi abitanti. Un appassionato navigatore o un pescatore, in virtù della loro diretta esperienza, possono renderci comprensibile ciò che non riuscivamo a vedere. Capita che la nostra scienza ci porti a conclusioni e scoperte interessanti, che tuttavia erano già note a coloro che traggono dal mare il loro sostentamento. Il miglior contributo che possiamo offrire a questo mare è allora frutto di una integrazione fra le conoscenze e le competenze di tutti: coloro che dipendono da questa risorsa, coloro che intendono preservarla e coloro che il mare lo conoscono soprattutto attraverso i libri o i laboratori. Succede che il mare parli alle persone in tanti modi diversi e non sempre lo fa nella nostra lingua.

Annalise Petroselli

05 November 2008

02 November 2008

Tethys contributes to new IUCN publications

On the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) website is now possible to download three important and interesting volumes about Marine Protected Areas and the effects of marine traffic in the Mediterranean Sea.

Two remarkable contributions come from Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara and Simone Panigada, respectively Tethys’s honorary president and vice-president.

Notarbartolo wrote the foreword of the volume called “Status of Marine Protected Areas in the Mediterranean Sea”. Panigada, with other researchers, wrote "Biodiversity impacts of ship movement, noise, grounding and anchoring", the first chapter of “Maritime traffic effects on biodiversity in the Mediterranean Sea - Volume 1”.


01 November 2008

Rare footage of vaquita

Chris Johnson, an acclaimed cetacean filmmaker who worked with Tethys in the recent past, is currently busy in Mexico with the ‘Expedition Vaquita’.

There, he is working with scientists from Mexico, the U.S., the U.K. and Japan to film vaquitas Phocoena sinus, the most endangered and the smallest cetacean in the world.

After some days in the field, Chris was a little ‘upset’ as suggested by his Blog: “I kept thinking how I was probably the only one on the expedition who had not glimpsed a vaquita yet. I was so busy filming the unfolding action...

But... good things come to those who wait!” and, on October 23rd, he managed to film the rare vaquita!

This video is part of Whale Trackers, a series of documentary programmes that journey across the world’s oceans to explore the lives of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

Have a look to the first rare footage of vaquita!


For more information:
The vaquita porpoise
IUCN Red List: Phocoena sinus