story featuring the work of three researchers
who study coastal dolphins in western Greece. The video highlights the
importance of personal commitment to protect endangered
marine mammal populations.
View Flash video
13 min 24 sec
Italian, English subtitles; year: 2004
Filmed in western Greece between 2001 and 2003 with a Canon XM1 digital
camcorder equipped with a Sennheiser K6 mic powering module / ME66 supercardioid
mic module. Edited
in 2004 using FinalCut Pro on a Macintosh computer. Fine-scale
editing added in 2007.
DolphinPeople was funded in part by a Pew
Marine Conservation Fellowship awarded to Giovanni Bearzi. OceanCare sponsored the filming equipment. Tethys
Research Institute and WDCS
The Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society offered additonal support. Final Cut Pro—the video editing software—was sponsored by Apple.
thanks to Stefano Agazzi and Joan Gonzalvo for their patience and unconditional availability during the filming sessions. Thanks
to Mauro Bastianini, Chris and Genevieve Johnson of earthOCEAN,
Cristiana Miglio, Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Elena Politi, Anke
Rau and Charles Saylan for their various contributions to this project.
the first lights of dawn, after a quick breakfast, Silvia, Joan and Stefano
get ready for the survey with the inflatable. Another working day with
the dolphins is waiting for them.
At this early
time it is quite cold, but sea conditions are ideal.
Joan scan the sea surface in search of fins, while Stefano records on
tape the route, and any change in the sea state.
7:15 AM position 38°39'22 N 20°54'61 E, sea state
chose to work with dolphins not only because of the dolphins, but for
the feeling I get when I am in a place like this. Going out to sea, working
with people who share the same interest and passion…
time I found myself in such a situation I saw it clearly, this was what
I wanted to do.
dolphins sighted, seven individuals we start photo-identification from
frame number one.
behaviour of these bottlenose dolphins is carefully recorded during long-lasting
observations. Each individual is identified through photographs of its
dorsal fin. In this way, the researchers obtain information on dolphin
movements and activities, as well as on potential factors that may be
threatening the animals.
conducting a study on the foraging ecology of common dolphins in Greece.
My job consists of collecting and analyzing the scales lost by fish when
dolphins feed near the surface. By matching these scales with scales taken
from fish of known species, I discovered that about 50% of dolphin prey
is composed of sardines, and about 50% of anchovies. Sardines and anchovies
that in this area are exposed to intensive fishing activities.
I think the
importance of a work like this, based on the analysis of fish scales to
investigate dolphin feeding habits, does not consist in its rather boring
technicalities. By putting together tiny puzzle pieces we can get a better
understanding of the problem. We observed that the dolphins feed on fish
that is being largely exploited by man. This may explain why dolphins
are disappearing from this area, there is increasingly little prey available
to these animals.
that makes me sad is when I first came to study dolphins here in Greece,
there were lots of them. You had a feeling that this place was a paradise
for dolphins. Now when we go out to sea we don't have the certainty that
dolphins will be found, and when we finally see them it is something really
common dolphins, as their name suggests, used to be abundant in the Mediterranean.
Today only a few isolated groups remain, and their future is uncertain.
an Environmental Sciences student and I would like to do a thesis on dolphins.
I chose to study dolphins because in the future I'd like to do a job that
gives me the possibility of staying in contact with nature most of the
time. But mostly, I'd like to do a job that gives me a feeling of doing
something useful to contribute - however little - to the conservation
of dolphins and the marine environment.
reasons that determined the decline of common dolphins are not fully understood,
but they seem to be largely related to environmental degradation caused
by human activities. The contribution of dedicated researchers is essential
to identify solutions for the protection of these magnificent animals.
dolphins makes me feel like a special person. I feel very lucky to do
something I've always dreamt about. I'm here in such a wonderful place,
I wake up early in the morning, work until late, get home at night and
may be overly tired, but I feel satisfied for everything I did.
me, it is very important to be working in a team. A group of people with
stories that may be different, but sharing the same motivation. With these
people I have developed a relationship that goes beyond one of simple
colleagues. We have managed to know each other well, and by doing something
good for the animals we care about, we get even closer to one another.
moment I prefer is when I go out to sea at dawn... flat sea... and you
never know what will happen on that day. You go on for hours looking for
dolphins with that tension you feel on board everyone silent, searching
with much concentration, everyone still, until a sighting occurs. Then
everyone knows for sure what needs to be done. And there are some moments,
some seconds when I get a kick because of a combination of events, maybe
things you have never seen before... And really in that moment all the
effort you put into this work makes sense.
I'm at sea the first strong emotion I feel is when after many hours spent
searching for dolphins, finally I see their fins far away. From that moment
a series of special emotions arise while I stay with the animals. These
include identifying every single animal. It isn't just a dolphin, it is
that individual, we have a name for her. You can shoot not just a photo,
but the right photo, the one that allows you to run the data analysis
during the winter.
me, and I think for those who do this job, studying the dolphins is a
commitment. This does not only include following the dolphins and going
to sea with the inflatable. We also collect a lot of data, and these data
are analyzed to understand how the dolphins behave, and what problems
they have. From there we can propose some actions, maybe we can draft
a Management Plan. Ideally, a place like this where there are people working
and studying dolphins becomes a protected area. This would represent a
very important step for us, something that makes a difference.
Silvia and Stefano hope that their findings and their personal commitment
will contribute to the protection of Mediterranean biodiversity. They
wish that the dolphins, as well as the turtles, the seals and all other
marine animals will live peacefully in these waters for many years to
here studying dolphins is something that makes me feel good, because I
think that we are doing something useful. This characterizes people working
with dolphins, we share the same enthusiasm and the same wish to promote
a change. You can feel that things are not going well. We want to understand
the problems faced by the dolphins and do something to change this situation.
This is something that must be done.
(Narrator: Giovanni Bearzi)