28 July 2009

Kalamos: first sighting of the year

Finally! Yesterday, just after 15 minutes of navigation around the transparent waters of Kalamos we had our first sighting of the year. It was my seventh time surveying the area this year and I already had come to terms with the fact that a sighting, given the low dolphin density in these waters, was quite unlikely.

When my colleague Susie called out! I couldn’t believe it. My perplexity, however, only lasted three seconds -- the time it took to turn around and spot the familiar silhouettes of the dolphin’s dorsal fins smoothly cutting the sea surface. As we approached them we confirmed that they were bottlenose dolphins. We spent three hours photoidentifying all the 16 dolphins of the group and recording their behaviour with the help of our five Earthwatch volunteers. I cannot think of a better spot for the dolphins to pop up and make my day. They were right in front of the beautiful village of Episkopi, where we had our field base for over 15 years and where I had some of the best moments of my life.

Because of my exclusive dedication to research in the Amvrakikos Gulf for the past several years, my last sighting in Kalamos occurred in 2004. Being around that group of dolphins felt special. Since I switched on the camera to get started with the photo-id, memories kept coming to my mind. My first sighting in a nearby location, 11 years ago. The first day I grabbed the camera with shaky hands after Giovanni (Bearzi) handed it to me saying “Joan, six dolphins: photoidentify them all - you have half an hour”. The first research season in which me and my fratello Stefano (Agazzi) were in charge of the research and logistics on our own... and many hours spent in the company of these wonderful creatures. I would not be the same person without all those experiences on my shoulders.

Joan Gonzalvo

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