Marine Mammals & Sea Turtles

Conservation & Monitoring

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Overview

Marine mammal research and conservation has been a key area of focus for Archipelagos Institute since its establishment. Work in this field aims to fill important knowledge gaps on the population distribution of marine mammals, whilst also recording and understanding the key factors that impact the survival of these populations, of rare and endangered species. Key factors that we assess include fisheries interactions, depletion of prey stocks, shipping traffic as well as pollution (plastic, chemical and noise pollution). The close cooperation with the local communities and authorities in all phases of this research and conservation is a key asset contributing to their protection.

The North-Eastern Mediterranean hosts some of the most important remaining marine mammal and sea turtle populations in the Mediterranean Sea. These include 4 species of dolphins (bottlenose, common, striped and Risso’s dolphin), 2 species of whales (sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales), the highly endangered Mediterranean monk seal, as well as two species of sea turtle (loggerheadand, green turtle). Despite the international and national legislation  on these species, there is a clear lack of effective conservation actions, causing further threats. Archipelagos’ research and conservation work on marine mammals of the NE Mediterranean with a focus on the Aegean Sea aims to improve the implementation of conservation actions in order to lasting reduction to the threats impacting these charismatic species

Partners

The Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area
The Coordinating Unit for the Mediterranean Action Plan Secretariat to the Barcelona Convention and its Protocols

 

MARINE MAMMAL STRANDING RECORDING FORM

(description, geographic coordinates)

Observation made by:
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MARINE MAMMAL SIGHTING FORM

(description, geographic coordinates)

(sea state, cloud cover (%), presence of boats)

(behavior, etc.)

Observation made by:
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MARINE MAMMAL STRANDING RECORDING FORM

(description, geographic coordinates)

Observation made by:
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MARINE MAMMAL SIGHTING FORM

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(sea state, cloud cover (%), presence of boats)

(behavior, etc.)

Observation made by:
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MARINE MAMMAL STRANDING RECORDING FORM

(description, geographic coordinates)

Observation made by:
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MARINE MAMMAL SIGHTING FORM

(description, geographic coordinates)

(sea state, cloud cover (%), presence of boats)

(behavior, etc.)

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SEA TURTLE STRANDING RECORDING FORM

(description, geographic coordinates)

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SEA TURTLE SIGHTING RECORDING FORM

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Research & Conservation Actions

Cetacean distribution studies on boat-based surveys

Knowledge on abundance, trends and distribution of cetacean population is needed to increase marine conservation efforts, ecosystem models and spatial planning. Boat-based surveys, conducted along pre-designed transects with dedicated observers, are used to assess the cetacean occurrence and density over our study area area.

Bioacoustics monitoring and recording of the communication of cetacean species

Bioacoustics study is essential to understand the different functions of cetacean  communication combined with the influence of anthropogenic activities. The study is carried out using a Hydrophone Array System and PAMGuard Software to detect the presence of cetaceans and to study their vocalizations. At the same time anthropogenic noise pollution is assessed in order to investigate possible effects of marine traffic and other forms of underwater noise pollution on cetacean behaviour and habitat selection.

Behavioural study on marine mammals

The analysis of specific ethograms based on the data collection during boat-based surveys is conducted parallel to other research to better assess the ecology of marine mammals. Statistical analysis and the use of innovative software such as BORIS are helping us to identify and quantify the influence of human activities on the life of marine mammals and to map their habitats (the sites they use for feeding, resting, nursery,, etc.).

Movement pattern, residency pattern and social structure through mark recapture photo-identification techniques

The research enables a census of the presence of a population in a specific area, while also helps in creating a Photo-ID catalogue for each year.The Capture-Mark-Recapture is considered a useful tool for making abundance estimates. During the boat-based survey, dedicated observers are taking picture of specific anatomical parts of the dolphins sighted in order to capture identificationmarks such as patch on the dorsal fin, notch, scars, etc.

Assessing fishstock biomass to estimate prey availability

Archipelagos’ marine mammal research team is currently working to develop a protocol for the estimation of cetacean prey availability, combining data of marine mammal abundance and distribution with data originating from a fishstock biomass scanner.

Analysis of the environmental factors influence on the distribution and abundance of Cetaceans

Ferry - boat fixed-transect monitoring of Cetaceans

Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary

The Aegean Marine Life Sanctuary (AMLS) is a model sanctuary where expert care and rehabilitation will be provided to sick and injured marine animals in and around the Greek islands and formerly captive dolphins can thrive in a natural environment. The AMLS is currently under construction on the island of Lipsi, aiming to become the first of its kind sanctuary using the highest standard of animal welfare and serving as a research and educational facility, that allows study without human disturbance to the animals.

Located in a pristine natural location being cost-effective, sustainable, innovative and far from the impacts of humans the AMLS is a solution to a global problem that is replicable and scalable.

To read more about it, click HERE

Monitoring the Mediterranean Monk Seals

As the Eastern Aegean region is considered a key habitat for the Mediterranean Monk Seal, Archipelagos is carrying out research on this important endangered species. The research is conducting by citizen science awareness and information campaigns, habitat suitability and identification as well as land survey to monitoring the behaviour of spotted individuals. Their interactions with fishing communities, as well as other threats,is monitored in order to develop and enforce realistic conservation and urgently needed schemes.

Archipelagos Stranding Response Network

Over the last decade, the Archipelagos Stranding Response Network has been developed with the cooperation of local communities in the Aegean Islands. It helps providing first aid and rescuing of stranded and, entangled animals as well as data sampling during necropsy on dead animals. The strandings are assessed by qualified staff able to provide guidance also from distance to people reporting the events.

Microplastic/Macroplastic: marine litter monitoring and assessment 

The microplastic research, conducted by Archipelagos Team, is focused on the quantification and categorisation of microplastics in the marine environment. To get a better picture of this global issue, marine animals from different level of the food chain are analysed starting from invertebrates up to megafauna (dolphins, seals, sea turtles found stranded). Furthermore, a parallel microplastic analysis focuses on the measurement of its concentration in both sea column and freshwater, as well as its effect on marine fauna and human's health.

 

The macroplastic research consists of daily and seasonal beach clean ups around Samos island, as well as in other Aegean islands. Moreover, during the boat-based and ferry fixed-transect surveys, a floating marine litter monitoring is conducted. This research can give us the chance to assess the origin of the plastic pollution identifying the seasonal trends and distribution of human litter. In this way, we can be able to realise targeted awareness campaigns to involve locals and tourists adopting conservation strategies to mitigate the problem.

 

Eco-navigation: a citizen-science platform for sailors and sea enthusiasts to report their observations 

Eco-navigation is a a citizen-science platform that addresses to sailors, divers, fishermen and sea enthusiasts and in general people who love the sea. It aims to encourage them to report their interesting observations while at sea such as the observations of marine mammals (dolphins, whales, seals), sea turtles, sharks, invasive species and jellyfish blooms, but also pollution incidents (plastic debris, oil spill, etc.) or other unusual or interesting sightings. The information they gather is made available to expert scientsts throughout Europe, strengthening in this way the cooperation between active citizens and scientists for the conservation of our seas but also for covering the large knowledge gaps that still exist in relation to marine life. 

Citizen science and School education and awareness projects

The Archipelagos’ team is active in various parts of the Aegean region, involving and engaging the island communities in its research and conservation efforts.  A wide variety of media material is produced to raise awareness, including leaflets, posters, booklets, children’s fairy tales, educational games and DVDs. Various events to raise awareness, such as workshops and conferences, also take place in island schools and communities throughout the year. For Archipelagos, this important investment is the key to long-term protection of the Greek seas and the entire Eastern Mediterranean.

⚡ With stormy winds in the Aegean and really difficult conditions, even in the safety of the port, we left the real inhabitants of our seas behind in the open waters.

☀️ While looking forward to the next boat survey, enjoy this photo from a recent sighting of Risso’s dolphins north of Ikaria island. This is one of the least studied and relatively unknown dolphin species that live in our seas.

💪🏼 If we do not cover the important knowledge gaps that still exist about the marine life of the Mediterranean, it is impossible to protect it!

#dolphins #wilddolphins #dolphinsighting #greece #ikaria
#mediterraneansea #mediterranean #oceanscience
#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #cetacean #marineconservation #marinemammals #marinemammalresearch
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⚖️ Conservation of cetaceans is vital for maintaining the balance of inter-species relationships, regulating relative abundance and assessing the presence of contaminants in the environment. But most research papers fail to mention how dolphins have been beneficial for human societies just as well as they are for the ecosystem in which they exist.

🐬 Sacred throughout the Greco-Roman classical period, symbols of cities such as Venice, associated with Apollo and Aphrodite, they represent music, love, art, poetic lyrism and the harmony of nature.

🧠 Dolphins additionally possess cognitive abilities unmatched across the animal kingdom and have been attributed a moral standing due to their high emotional intelligence. They have inspired artworks across time and culture, and are valuable socio-economic attributes to coastal towns.

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #cetaceans #marinemammals #research #marinebiology #marinemammalresearch #marineconservation #greece #aegeansanctuary #researchforconservation
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⛵ Today we introduce you to Pinelopi! Our oldest boat which has been supporting our oceanographic research and marine conservation actions since 1999. After several years in the dry dock for some repair works, she was again back in action in 2019. Pinelopi is a traditional vessel of “schooner” type and is a copy of a famous sailing boat from 1811, with 2 masts, 16 m length and 5 m width. She is built with 10 mm steel in order to withstand the harshest of weather conditions.

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #marinemammalresearch #marineconservation #greece #aegeansanctuary #researchforconservation #researchvessel #boat #schooner
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The Mediterranean population of Striped dolphin has been listed as Vulnerable by the IUCN red list due to the extensive threats they face, mainly because of overfishing and pollution. Archipelagos has been monitoring the population of this beautiful species in the Greece Seas, urging towards its protection and long-term conservation!

🐬 Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) get their name from the distinct pattern of grey and white stripes they display on the side of their body. Extremely social, we frequently monitor them in pods of 100-250 individuals in the easter Aegean. This species is particularly acrobatic and can often be seen leaping up to 6m above the surface!

#Archipelagos #WeAreArchipelagos #SaveTheAegean #StandForOceans #oceansresearchforconservation #oceansience #mediterraneansea #mediterranean #saveourseas #savetheocean #greece #lipsi #nature
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Good afternoon to everyone from the Aegean! 😊

#archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #researchforconservation #aegeansea #mediterranean #mediterraneansea #greece #samos #marinemammals #savetheocean #marinelife #saveourseas #dolphins #whales
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🌧️ These days' weather conditions are not suitable for boat surveys. This allows us to make time for data analysis.

📚 It's part of a scientific job to sit down in the office and process the data which we collect at sea. Each intern focuses on a specific research topic around marine mammals that ranges from photo-ID, behaviour to acoustics. The results will expand our knowledge of these marine species and the area they inhabit.

#archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #researchforconservation #aegeansea #mediterranean #mediterraneansea #greece #samos #marinemammals #savetheocean #marinelife #saveourseas #dolphins #whales
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⛵ We continue to survey almost daily at sea, on board our research vessels, despite the -frequently- rough seas of the autumn months.

🐬 Within 77 days of survey we reported 124 sightings in the Northeastern Aegean, where some of the most important surviving marine mammal populations of the Mediterranean Sea are found

🐋 The sightings include 4 species of dolphins (bottlenose, common, striped and Risso’s dolphin), 2 species of whales (sperm whales and Cuvier’s beaked whales), as well as the endangered, Mediterranean monk seal.

This research and conservation action will continue throughout the winter.

#Archipelagos #WeAreArchipelagos #SaveTheAegean #StandForOceans #oceans researchforconservation #oceansience #mediterraneansea #mediterranean #saveourseas #savetheocean #greece #lipsi #nature
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Through extensive surveys with the boats “Pinelopi” and “Naftilos”, the main goal of Archipelagos Institute is to contribute to filling the knowledge gap, which will ultimately help enforce policies that will safeguard the survival of these rare species.

#archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #researchforconservation #aegeansea #mediterranean #mediterraneansea #greece #ikaria #samos #chios #marinemammals #savetheocean #marinelife #saveourseas #dolphins #whales #dolphinsighting #boatexpedition
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Only within the past 24 hours, we have encountered and collected data on sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales, and four species of dolphins in the region of NE Aegean.

These sightings confirm the region’s global environmental significance for multiple cetacean populations.

#archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #researchforconservation #aegeansea #mediterranean #mediterraneansea #greece #ikaria #samos #chios #marinemammals #savetheocean #marinelife #saveourseas #dolphins #whales #dolphinsighting #RissosDolphin #Rissosdolphins #spermwhale #beakedwhale #expedition #boatexpedition
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Today we will be talking about our expeditions over the trench between Ikaria, Samos and Chios, which exceeds 1400 meters in depth! It is one of the most important migratory routes and feeding areas for large marine mammals in the North-East Mediterranean.

⛵ During extended boat surveys, our research team is gathering data on the rare species living over this important hotspot, to increase understanding of the northern and central Aegean ecosystems, its inhabitants and the anthropogenic impacts that threaten their survival.

#archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #researchforconservation #aegeansea #mediterranean #mediterraneansea #greece #ikaria #samos #chios #marinemammals #savetheocean #marinelife #saveourseas #dolphins #whales #dolphinsighting #RissosDolphin #Rissosdolphins #spermwhale #beakedwhale #expedition #boatexpedition
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Happy Monday to everybody from the Aegean!

On board of the research boat Naftilos, we captured this image of a common dolphin calf swimming next to its mother. 🐬🐬

Despite their name, common dolphins are the rarest dolphin species in the Mediterranean. The fact that in Archipelagos Institute we have, for yet another year, many recordings of calves in the eastern Aegean, gives us hope for an increase in overall population in the area.

#Wearearchipelagos #Archipelagos #SaveTheAegean #dolphin #cetaceans #commondolphin #greece #AegeanSea #Mediterranean #Mediterraneansea #ocean #researchforconservation
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The Aegean Sea never ceases to amaze us! 🐳

This Sunday, we photographed these two splendid sperm whales. These animals belong to a four-member social group that feeds, these days, in the extremely important trench that lies between the islands of Ikaria, Chios and Samos.

The team, on board the boat Naftilos, continues their daily research and collects valuable data, just before the strong winds in the Aegean pick up.

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #marinemammalresearch #marineconservation #spermwhale #greece #aegeansanctuary #researchforconservation #mediterraneansea
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Beautiful images like this one inspire the Archipelagos team to continue the difficult mission of protecting our seas 🌊

Marine research and conservation requires a lot of hours of intense field work throughout the year.

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #marinemammalresearch #marineconservation #greece #greekislands #greeceislands #greecetravel #savetheturtles #savetheseas #savesealife #savethedolphins #researchforconservation #dolphins #aegeansanctuary #dolphinwatching #dolphinewatch #marinelife #marinelifematters #marinelifeconservation #marinelifeprotection #savemarinelife #savemarineanimals
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Despite the interchanging south and north winds, Archipelagos Institute’s research and conservation action in various parts of the Aegean Sea does not stop, all year round.

Although the weather conditions in this time of year are frequently adverse, we are rewarded by the fascinating images of rare species that still survive in the Aegean and in the important scientific data we manage to obtain.

The sperm whale in the photograph is starting to descend for a dive that will last about an hour, in a region where the depth exceeds 1000 meters.

The unique Aegean Sea is, unfortunately, broadly unknown. Our aspiration is to unveil its extraordinary natural richness and to raise awareness about its incredible biodiversity and the important responsibility we all share for its protection.

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean#marinemammalresearch #marineconservation #spermwhale #greece#aegeansanctuary #researchforconservation
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Today, learn about Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), one of the least studied dolphin species that live in eastern Mediterranean.

🐬 They are normally found in small pods, migrating over deep waters, often in steep canyons and trenches. As deep diving cetaceans, Risso’s dolphins can dive down to 300m and hold their breath for 30 minutes.

🐬 One of the Risso’s dolphins' most particular characteristics is their natural markings.
→ They have distinctive scarring over their body, which are caused by interactions with other dolphins, or by their prey.
→ Due to the lack of repigmentation during the healing process of the skin, Risso’s dolphins gradually lose their initial dark grey colour as they grow older.

We have continued surveying despite the strong winds from the previous days. The long-term monitoring of these rare species allows us to comprehend the ways in which they are being threatened by anthropogenic factors. This knowledge is vital to implement efficient conservation actions that bring concrete results for their protection !

Good weekend to all from the Aegean!

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #RissosDolphin #grampusgriseus #dolphins #dolphinsighting #wilddolphins #ikaria #chios #fourni #samos #lipsi #greece
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Good afternoon to all with a beautiful image of striped dolphins in the northern Aegean.

Striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) live in the open sea, in large groups that often exceed 100. They are identified by the characteristic stripe that goes across the two sides of their body.

In the picture we can see 2 mothers with their young. It is one of the hundreds of photos gathered daily by our researchers for the photo-identification of the individuals that comprise each dolphin population. With this method we can identify individual dolphins based on the characteristic marks on their body.

Striped dolphins never approach fishing gear nor coastal waters. We frequently observe them in the open sea encircling schools of fish, herding them into a tight ball. They then take turns rushing through the school to feed.

It has to be noted that this species is encountered in most strandings on the shores of the Aegean over the past years. When we are unaware and do not comprehend the important wildlife of our seas, it is impossible to protect it!

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #marinemammalresearch #marineconservation
#stripeddolphin #greece #aegeansanctuary #researchforconservation #dolphin #dolphins #ocean #sea #nature #animals #cetacean
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Today, learn about Cuvier's beaked whales, the rare wildlife or our Seas!

The populations of Cuvier’s beaked whales (Ziphius cavirostris) in the waters of the North and Central Aegean are one of the most important recordings the past few days.

It took us over 20 years of continuous presence in the Aegean to be able to achieve not only a close approach to this rare whale species, but above all a comprehension of their populations and how they are impacted by the multiple anthropogenic threats. It is noteworthy that in specific sea areas such as the waters of the North Ikaria Trench, in Archipelagos Institute we have recorded the continuous presence of Cuvier’s Beaked Whales for 21 years in the exact same marine region.

The beaked whales are out of the least known cetacean species globally, but also one of the most impressive.The knowledge gaps on this whale genus, is also due to the fact that while searching for their prey they can do deep dives, the deepest having been recorded at almost 3000 meters and with a longer duration of 3 hours and 42 minutes.

Despite the human stressors impacting increasingly marine and terrestrial ecosystems over the past decades, the fact that these large mammals continue to survive in our seas gives us great hope, but also reminds us of the great responsibility we all share in order for them to continue to survive.

By now it should have become clear to all that our survival depends on the survival of nature. Sterile campaigns are not only superfluous, but at our times are becoming dangerous as they are shifting the focus of the public in the wrong directions. The times we live in require real knowledge, perseverance and effective action.

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #marinemammalresearch #marineconservation #ziphiidae #cetacean #beakedwhale #greece #aegeansanctuary #researchforconservation
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Today, learn about Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus), one of the least studied dolphin species that live in eastern Mediterranean.

They are normally found in small pods, migrating over deep waters, often in steep canyons and trenches. As deep diving cetaceans, Risso’s dolphins can dive down to 300 m and hold their breath for 30 minutes.

One of the Risso’s dolphins' most particular characteristics is their natural markings. They have distinctive scarring over their body, which are caused by interactions with other dolphins, or by their prey. Due to the lack of repigmentation during the healing process of the skin, Risso’s dolphins gradually lose their initial dark grey colour as they grow older.

Our team have continued surveying despite the strong winds from the previous days. The long-term monitoring of these rare species allows us to comprehend the ways in which they are being threatened by anthropogenic factors. This knowledge is vital to implement efficient conservation actions that bring concrete results for their protection!

#Archipelagos #wearearchipelagos #savetheaegean #RissosDolphin #grampusgriseus #dolphins #dolphinsighting #wilddolphins #ikaria #chios #fourni #samos #lipsi #greece
...

Welcome to our page! This is us: the marine mammal team of Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation onboard Naftilos, one of our research vessels. Marine mammal research and conservation has been a key area of focus for Archipelagos since its establishment. Our work aims to fill important knowledge gaps on the population distribution of marine mammals while recording and understanding the critical factors that impact the survival of these rare and endangered species. The Aegean Sea hosts some of the most important remaining marine mammal and sea turtle populations in the Mediterranean Sea. Are you ready to discover them with us? 🐬🐳🦭 ...

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