An excellent start to the season. Pelagos took to the sea again to begin what will be 19 exciting weeks of data collection in the Ligurian Sea. On board were people from all nations (Japan, Usa, Canada, France, Indonesia, Germany, England, Italy) keen to participate in the research and drawn by the biodiversity of this region. The sea welcomed us with many by-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella), a species of colonial jellyfish that attract sunfish (Mola mola) at the surface and consequently we spotted many of these fascinating creatures. It was a real bonus when, after a marine biology lesson, we had the good fortune to spot a turtle (Caretta caretta). For at least four of our volunteer, this was the first time they had lived on board a boat and none of them had ever seen a dolphin in the wild. Imagine their joy when we spotted striped dolphins and were able to spend time watching them bowriding. Other volunteers had already seen large cetaceans around the world but had chosen the Ligurian Sea in the hope of seeing something different. They were not disappointed. We spent a long time with a group of 17 Risso’s dolphins, observing behaviour (headstanding and two individuals rubbing up against each other) and recording respiration patterns and vocalisations. We succeeded in taking photos of all members of the group and matching is well underway. Volunteers spent an entire afternoon matching individuals to previous records in our catalogue and were delighted to discover that at least three of the individuals were seen together in July 2005, showing that these animals have remained together. This first week in June bodes well for the season to come.
Our first time to join the Pelagos research ship and since we did not have any knowledge of cetaceans, we were both anxious and excited at the same time. The weather conditions held us to port for one day, but we were very fortunate to sight striped dolphins and the Risso’s dolphins which were both an experience of a lifetime. We’d like to thank the researchers of Pelagos and the other volunteers who were on the boat together with us. Everyone was so friendly, enthusiastic and fun-loving. If you are worried about getting sea-sick, ask for Captain Roberto’s remedy. It works wonders! Thank you all so very much, we will miss you.
Kaori and Eri, Japan
But really, I had a great time. I’d recommend anyone to a Tethys research program. Okay I gotta go! THANKS EVERYONE!!
This has been such an amazing and unforgettable experience. I came here thinking I would see whales and dolphins and I didn’t even think about all the fantastic people I would meet, from all over the world but sharing the same passion for cetaceans. The first sighting of the striped dolphins was breathtaking, especially when they turned their body in the water to look up at us in the boat. I am lucky because I am staying for another week – eager to spot a fin whale! So fingers crossed!! Coming away from this week I have some great memories and have made many friends… I also discovered that Italian men are awesome cooks!!