16 June 2009

Andrea Catherwood joins the Tethys team at Vonitsa

What an incredible experience. Looking out across the Ionian sea at such a idyllic Greek postcard perfect scene it isn’t hard to believe there are dolphins here, but I was still unprepared for the huge thrill of observing them at such close quarters as they feed, socialise and occasionally perform aerobatics.

I feel totally immersed in another world both on water and at the field station where we live. I admit to taking a nerdish delight in learning to crop and match the photos of dolphin fins that are used to identify the dolphins we see each day and that help with the research being done to try and protect these vulnerable animals. It’s a long time since I absorbed such a lot of new information and enjoyed myself so much at the same time.

The chance to live and work with a scientist as knowledgeable and charismatic as Joan Gonzalvo is a real privilege. His passion for marine mammals and protecting their habitat is infectious. The arguments against pollution and overfishing that are ruining this precious environment are overwhelming. I hope that through the work of Earthwatch and their partner organisations the dolphins will survive here in the Amvrakikos Gulf and elsewhere, but that depends on real action to reverse current unsustainable levels of commercial fishing which have, for example, decimated the nearby dolphin population at Kalamos by robbing them of their food.

I don’t want to show the photographs of this amazing trip to my children when they’re older and say ‘Did you know that back in the olden days there used to be dolphins in the Mediterrenean.’


Andrea Catherwood is a British broadcaster and journalist writing a travel article for the Independent on Sunday newspaper.

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