Yesterday has been a special day: my first striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba) sighting ever, and the first sighting of this species for the Ionian Dolphin Project in the Gulf of Corinth.
I was out at sea with Tilen Genov and five volunteers. The sea was a little choppy but expectations were high, as the day before we had seen no dolphins. Any buoy, bird or strange wave looking like a dorsal fin caused a little jump into my stomach, but after 30 min we spotted three small fins.
The animals were far from us and I was quite sure they were bottlenose dolphins, as until that moment we had only seen this species, including in that particular area. But as soon as we approached them we could see the distinctive white flanks: striped dolphins!
It was a small group of only three adults, performing short dives in a very quiet way. They were probably resting and didn’t perform aerial behaviour.
Coordination on board was great, and we managed to collect a lot of data. At the end of the sighting, everybody was satisfied about this unexpected encounter and the work we did. We went back to the field station in Galaxidi on the same choppy sea that had opened the day, and immediately downloaded the digital photos: one dorsal fin had distinctive notches, one a small nick, and the third wore no markings at all.
Our striped dolphin photo-identification catalogue had started.