The aim for the strandings database is to analyse information about all marine mammal and turtle strandings which have occurred in the Greek seas since 2000 as has been recorded over the years by Archipelagos’ researchers, as well as, keeping all information digitalized and easily accessible. Currently we are compiling all of the data from previous years, as well as inputting new information to the database, including one stranded Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus), that the team responded to this month. The aim for the next month is to collect any missing data and continue to update the database as strandings occur.
Marine Life Sanctuary
The project focuses on the various design and preparation aspects for the creation of The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary: a multi-purpose marine rehabilitation and veterinary centre in the eastern Aegean Sea (link). The sanctuary will contain a fully functional veterinary centre, complete with specialised veterinarians and equipment, where marine species can receive care, within a semi-natural environment. Within the natural seawater bays, wild animals will be rehabilitated for re-release after a full recovery, or if rescued from captivity will remain in the sanctuary. The creation of the sanctuary has already progressed, while a network of experts and scientists, are still contributing to certain aspects of the design phase. This will ensure the sanctuary standards and operations are ‘gold standard’; aiming to become an example for future marine life sanctuaries around the world. Archipelagos’ marine mammal research team works had to support all aspects of this challenging endeavour, which is one of Archipelagos’ key projects and conservation goals.
Boat Based Marine Mammal Surveys
The team has completed multiple marine mammal boat surveys over the last month. One survey in particular included a large group of surface feeding common dolphins. The aim of these surveys are to collect behavioural data, abundance, anthropogenic affects, as well as photos for photo-ID of individual bottlenose and common dolphins (Tursiops truncatus and Delphinus delphis). Despite the difficult weather conditions of the winter, we will continue surveys and data collection over the coming months, during all mild-weather days.
Habitat modelling of common dolphin, Delphinus delphis, in the Aegean Sea by using different dynamic models.
The aim of this research project is to complete habitat modelling of common dolphins, Delphinus delphis, in the Aegean Sea by using different dynamic models. Population of marine mammals found in Mediterranean Sea are genetically distinct from their North Atlantic relatives which is why the studies revealing their habitats and biology are so important, especially observations of cetacean presence in the Aegean Sea since this area is one of the least surveyed portions of the Mediterranean. Research in this field compares the presence/absence of marine mammals to environmental conditions of the surveyed region. In this past month we have compiled maps containing presence points of common dolphins collected in 2015 and 2016 by the Archipelagos marine mammal research team (Pic.1 and Pic. 2). Additionally we selected environmental factors which will be used in our model: Sea Surface Temperature (SST), Sea Surface Height (SSH), Salinity (S), Chlorophyll (CHL), Bathymetry, Slope, Distance from shore.
The next step in order to reach our aims will be calculation of Slope and Distance using the programme ArcGIS. Later, the mentioned software will be used to compile all obtained data, regarding dolphin sightings in the Aegean Sea, as well as environmental variables, into the same format, which entitles that all datasets will cover the same area (it’s a process called Interpolation). Completion of this project will help in: increasing the awareness of the public about the negative impact that the environmental changes can have on marine animals.
The Eco-navigation project focuses on creating a citizen-science platform about observations of marine mammals (dolphins, whales, seals), sea turtles, invasive species and jellyfish blooms, as well as, pollution incidents (plastic debris, oil slicks, etc.) or other unusual sightings. In this way we are in the process of forming a network of sailors, divers, fishermen and other sea enthusiasts who will contribute to the eco-navigation network by providing information and photographs of the observations they make. The aim of this project is to create an online community and a database concerning the status of the Greek seas and whole Mediterranean, from the observations of sailors and sea enthusiasts. During this month, the eco-navigation booklet was handed out to those brave sailors still traveling during winter the in the eastern Aegean. Additionally, the database was updated from sightings that were e-mailed to Archipelagos from individuals who received the booklet. In the next months, we will continue the awareness raising efforts aiming to strengthen the Eco-Navigation network.