08 September 2010

Cetacean Sanctuary Research 16 (30 August - 05 September)

Where to start? This week has been like very few others. It was placed under the sign of uniqueness. The clement weather allowed us to spend all five days out at sea, which we decided to spend mostly in the eastern part of our study area. A decision that proved to be fruitful. Over the past couple of months we were starting to think we wouldn’t be able to sight some of the less regular species that inhabit the Ligurian Sea. Indeed, this week the eastern part of the Pelagos Sanctuary was the scene of four very special and rare encounters:. Even though it may be hard for participants to grasp how unique these events were, we believe the team’s reaction and hardly contained excitement was proof enough. Our second day out at sea was marked by a two-hour-long sighting of a group of fifteen very active Risso’s dolphins, who delighted us by exhibiting their curious behaviours incuding “spy hopping”, “head standing”, “tail-slapping” and even “bow-riding”. In fact, they were sometimes a little too active for the researcher in charge of photo-identification. Later that day, we could not believe our ears when our captain Paolo shouted “ZIFIO!!”. When we came out to see, it was hard to believe how close the Cuvier’s beaked whale was to the boat. She was a female, based on the lack of two big teeth at the front of the rostrum. Following our eastern route, much to our surprise and delight, we had the opportunity to sight a group of four female Cuvier’s beaked whales in the slope area, and managed to stay with them for two hours, as they unusually didn’t stay underwater for more than 10-15 min. The day ended taking refuge next to the turtle-shaped island of Gallinara for one night. Two days later again Risso’s dolphin joined us, but only a three-individual group, calm and relaxed. What an excitement when we discovered that one of the three was in the same group sighted before. To top it all, we also sighted a fin whale, a distant sperm whale and numerous striped dolphins. It was just one of those weeks…

Viridiana, Francesca, Nina, Morgana and Cristina  (CSR Team members)


As sad as it sounds, it took an experience like this for me to realize the beauty and magnificence of cetaceans and the enormous effect that humans have on their future well-being. I will remain ever vigilant and ever true regarding personal decisions I make from this moment on. Thank you Tethys crew for providing me with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – you’ve been extremely welcoming and patient, even if we have trouble reporting what types of boats are in the vicinity =). I won’t let you down!

Khoa (USA)


A cette heure, les mots manquent pour décrire cette semaine magique durant laquelle nous nous sommes émerveillés, avons découvert, appris. Merci à toute l’équipe de nous avoir fait partager votre quotidien et de nous avoir permis d’apporter notre minime contribution. En échange, nous rentrons un peu plus ouverts, un peu plus conscients, bien plus riches qu’au départ. Nous essaierons de ne pas tout à fait reprendre nos vies là ou nous les avions laissées, de conserver ce petit supplément d’âme, de faire passer le message. 
Ancora grazie mille per questi 5 giorni. 

Julie & Fabien  (Switzerland)


We have tried, again and again, to find the Loch Ness monster in the Ligurian sea, but in vain. However, many other cetaceans came to join us, too many to remember all of them. If you don’t believe us, we strongly advise you to join the trip and spend some time contributing to Tethys’ efforts. Thus aiming to enhance our environmental awareness and reduce our polluting consumerism and acts. Please carry on like this, it was a real pleasure to meet you and to discover your work and enthusiasm. One more question: why is the sea so salty? 

Nicolas (France)


What an adventure! We saw so many wonderful things that I don’t really know where to begin… AMAZING is the 1st word that comes to mind. I’m not sure I realise how lucky we were this week. You have told us that the cetaceans we saw were rare… we just enjoyed seeing them. I hope they will still be there in a few decades time for us to see again. That would mean that humans are capable of changing!  Thank you for your explanations, your kindness, your enthusiasm, the way you have to share your knowledge in simple words… I feel like I know the Mediterranean Sea better now, thanks to you.

Noémie (France)

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