26 September 2009

Delphi's Dolphins, 19-26 September

I can honestly say that my time working with Tethys has been a truly great experience. Many thanks to Stefano and Susie for their hospitality, and the knowledge and experience that they have shared with us.We were very lucky to observe both striped and bottlenose dolphins. I felt honoured to have observed these magnificent creatures, and proud to be part of a team collecting research data. The lectures provided by Susie and Stefano have made me realise how fragile the ecosystem is and the impact of overfishing on cetaceans and the world. I shall pass this knowledge onto my friends and family and now make educated choices about only eating fish caught from sustainable sources. I hope that the data I collected for Tethys was useful and I really do hope to return again. Many thanks to Tracy and Esti who were a pleasure to live and work with, and I do hope we will keep in touch! Again, thank you to Stefano and Susie and all the Tethys staff and volunteers, it is valuable and wonderful job that you do.

Joanne, U.K.


Stefano and Susie are teaching me step-by-step how to survey the dolphins, record the data and learn more about their lives and the marine environment. Today, our second day at sea, we were thrilled to see 5 dolphins near the fish farm. 3 adults and 2 calves dived around for about an hour. They were hard to spot because the adults kept their distance from our boat to protect their calves. Esti has delighted us with delishes Israeli meals and a new kitten keeps us occupied during the cafe breaks. Today, we also took a long walk through town after lunch and took many, many photos of the beautiful homes and landmarks of Galaxidi. Tomorrow, I'll brave the waters for a swim!

We had a great day at sea today. We ventured a little further out of Galaxidi and spotted the elusive striped dolphins in choppy conditions. 'Out at 3!', 'Out at 11!', 'Out at 6!'...they were all around us in a group of about 15 adults. We spent about an hour gathering data, taking photos, and observing their behavior as they swam under our boat and by our side. It's quite an adrenaline rush when they're so close and playful. When we spot the dolphins that early in the morning, we know it's going to be the start of a very good day! In the afternoon, Esti, Joanne and I took a bus ride to Delphi. Unfortunately most of the site was closed due to falling rocks from the mountains above (safety hazard), but we still enjoyed the site, the town and the view of the valley below. For dinner, Stefano made his famous pizzas-both vegetarian and meat-lovers style. I'm sure we'll all sleep well tonight! Thank you for delighting us once again with such a lovely supper.

Today, the weather was good, the winds were low and we had smoother waters for seeing the dolphins. It took a little longer to find them, but Stefano decided to swing by the fish farm one more time. There, Joanne and I both spotted something dark floating on the surface of the water. We were afraid it was a dolphin carcass, but it turned out to be a large sea turtle! We tried to turn around to take a photo, but it took one look up before going down for a deep dive. We didn't see it again. One more species to add to our sightings: common dolphins, striped dolphins, jellyfish, and now sea turtles. All we need is a whale sighting to really make our day! Directly in front of the fish farm Susie spotted on dolphin circling around for food. It turned out to be a familiar friend...Nemo. Susie told us that he tends to swim alone and that this is an odd behavior for a dolphin. It is a sign that something's not quite right with Nemo, he should be interacting with his peer group. We stayed with Nemo for about an hour before heading back to the pier, but not before stopping in shallower waters for a refreshing swim. I jumped in right along with Esti and Susie. It was the perfect end to another great morning of data collection. Tonight, we celebrated our successful day with a dinner at one of the local restaurants by the pier. We all enjoyed a traditional Greek menu: souvlaki, feta, fried potatoes, beetroot salad, tzatziki, and so much more. The local business owners are so kind and accomodating. It's been a real pleasure getting to know all the familiar faces in town.

Today is my last full day of the program. It's been an amazing experience and I've learned so much about the dolphins, the fishing industry, and life in Galaxidi. This is a trip I will carry with me forever. I hope to come back some day and see the that the dolphin populations are thriving. Thank you to the entire Tethys team for making my time in Greece so enjoyable.

Tracy, USA

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