The Aegean Sea hosts some of the most important remaining marine mammal and sea turtle populations in the Mediterranean. Thanks to their unique biodiversity and pristine waters, the islands attract many sea enthusiasts all year long, especially during the summer season. Bad encounters between boats and mammals are common and can have disastrous consequences for animals. Depending, on the season and their needs (feeding, migration, breeding, etc.), these species can live in both offshore and onshore areas.  They live both offshore and onshore for vital reasons. In these areas, marine mammals are very vulnerable to stresses caused by many disturbance sources. The most common negative impact remains an incorrect approach by boats, which can lead to separation between a calf and its mother for example, or physical injury to the animal in the event of a collision. In the Mediterranean sea, the percentage of cetaceans stranded (that show signs of ship collision) is shocking data. Similarly, the masses of marine traffic have a negative effect on marine life due to increasing underwater noise. This forces the cetaceans to evacuate the area, disrupting their life cycle.

Archipelagos’ research boat on a Marine Mammal survey

However, the observation of cetaceans in their natural environment remains the largest source of information that researchers use to understand and analyse these extraordinary animals. That’s why the Archipelagos Marine Mammal Team is developing a protocol in order to show the best approach to the sea enthusiasts, sailors and tourists. The rules to be respected in case of approach of animals will be illustrated with simple graphic techniques in order to generate fewer negative boat/animal interactions.

Archipelago’s researchers collecting data for dolphin photo-identification during a boat survey.

This protocol will be translated into many different languages and accompanied by an observation sheet. This enables observers to provide data to our database on the location and behaviour of marine mammals in the Aegean Sea and other parts of the Mediterranean. The Archipelagos Institute has developed the Eco-Navigation project to create a citizen science database starting with sailors, sea enthusiasts and tourists’ reports.

Archipelago’s researchers collecting data for dolphin photo-identification during a boat survey.

The important data to gather for us during an observation includes:

  • GPS coordinates
  • Species
  • Number of individuals
  • Data about behaviour
  • Pictures for photo-identification

This data can be sent to us via the observation form or by mail:

We count on the support of all the sea enthusiasts who want to contribute to our database for the conservation of marine species of the Aegean Sea.

Quentin Gouget

 Bsc Water treatment                                                                                                                                              

AFTEC Formation, Orleans, France