22 May 2017

Dead striped dolphin

Today a striped dolphin was found dead near Galaxidi. Our friend Chrisoula Papalexi alerted us and Nikos Stanzouris helped us do a quick necropsy before the dolphin was buried.

The animal was a young female, 1 m 34 cm long. She had a large wound of unknown origin near her right eye, and the tip of the upper jaw was broken.
We contacted our friends Prof. Bruno Cozzi and Prof. Sandro Mazzariol, veterinary experts from the University of Padua, Italy, who have a lot of experience on dolphin strandings. They could not identify the cause of mortality based on photos of the wound. A gun shot should have exited from the opposite side, but there was no enter/exit hole (or bullet inside). Explosives would have left solid fragments that were not present, and produced a different damage. Finally, there was no sign of entanglement in fishing gear. The wounds might be postmortem, perhaps caused in part by animals, and/or rocks and other debris following the stranding. But at present there is no certainty and this is just preliminary speculation.

Information on striped dolphins living in the Gulf of Corinth can be found in the paper below:

Bearzi G., Bonizzoni S., Santostasi N.L., Furey N.B., Eddy L., Valavanis V.D., Gimenez O. 2016. Dolphins in a scaled-down Mediterranean: the Gulf of Corinth's odontocetes. Pp. 297-331 in Mediterranean Marine Mammal Ecology and Conservation (G. Notarbartolo di Sciara, M. Podestà and B.E. Curry, eds). Advances in Marine Biology, Vol. 75, Academic Press, Oxford.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

15 May 2017

Action Plan for Marine Mammals in Israel, 2017–2022

Our latest contribution to marine mammal conservation:

Action Plan for Marine Mammals in Israel, 2017–2022

Download simple pdf version (5 MB)

Download pdf with active Table of Contents and links (14 MB)


The Mediterranean waters of Israel cover a sea surface of approximately 26,000 km2. Israel also has a small 14 km window open to the Red Sea, at the northwestern tip of the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat. These waters host a considerable variety of marine mammals: most of the cetacean species known to be present in the Mediterranean also occur in the waters of Israel. On the southern coast, the deep Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat hosts several of the cetacean species occurring in the entire Red Sea. Israel’s marine mammal fauna also includes one member of the Family Phocidae (the rare Mediterranean monk seal); one sirenian—the dugong—may still occur in the Gulf of Aqaba/Eilat.

Israel has formally committed to the preservation of biodiversity by ratifying a number of international conservation treaties and issuing strict nature and animal conservation laws. However, action taken so far has not been capable of mitigating the diversity and vehemence of human pressures on the marine environment. While all marine mammal species in Israel are formally protected, little action has been taken to prevent unintentional damage. Timely conservation action is needed to prevent marine mammal decline.

The Action Plan for Marine Mammals in Israel, prepared by Giovanni Bearzi (Dolphin Biology and Conservation) in consultation with Israel Marine Mammal Research & Assistance Center (IMMRAC), contributes background information, a rationale and a set of actions to protect marine mammals in Israel. The Plan outlines a set of legislative, management, research, education and awareness initiatives which aim to: 1) improve the management of human activities known or likely to have negative impacts on marine mammals, and produce scientific information that can support and guide such process, 2) prominently feature marine mammals in national legislation and management decision, 3) make the general public and the institutions fully aware of the need of protecting marine mammals, as well as of the long-term benefits of preserving healthy marine ecosystems, 4) ensure the protection of areas containing important marine mammal habitat and prey resources, and 5) support the development of expertise and establish the social and economic framework necessary to accomplish the marine mammal conservation objectives listed above.

In recent years, field research by Israeli and other scientists has produced important information on marine mammal occurrence, ecology and behaviour. Such knowledge, together with a growing popular appreciation of the importance of protecting marine biodiversity, represents a solid background to start a formal process of nation-wide recognition of marine mammals—leading to more intensive research efforts, increased public and institutional awareness, and concrete conservation action. Besides representing a resource for nature tourism, a healthy marine mammal fauna can raise Israel’s international reputation as a nation aware of the importance of protecting its natural heritage. Science-based actions inspired by the precautionary principle can set high standards of conservation management, representing a model for marine mammal protection in the region and propelling broad marine conservation efforts.

09 May 2017

Seminario all'Orto Botanico di Padova

Giovanni's seminar at the Botanical Garden of Padua, Italy. Thank you Paola Nicolosi (Director of the Museum of Zoology, University of Padua) for the warm welcoming and the opportunity.

27 April 2017

Delfini e balene all'Orto Botanico di Padova

DELFINI E BALENE: mostri da massacrare o esseri senzienti da tutelare?

Attraverso immagini di grande impatto visivo, Giovanni Bearzi illustrerà gli stupefacenti cambiamenti che hanno trasformato in nostro modo di percepire i cetacei. Per secoli "pesci" mostruosi e maligni, animali nocivi da sterminare, prede; oggi "giganti gentili", simpatici cugini acquatici dalle mirabili capacità intellettive, esseri senzienti. Un percorso codificato in termini moderni da Jeremy Bentham e Charles Darwin, che sta entrando a far parte del pensiero scientifico e del sentire comune (con molte contraddizioni). L'evolversi di questa "biofilia marina" sarà in grado di rallentare il degrado ambientale e la perdita di biodiversità? Di certo alcune popolazioni di cetacei sono state decimate e versano in grave pericolo, anche nei nostri mari. Come è possibile evitarne la scomparsa? Bearzi, veneziano, svolge ricerche sui cetacei del Mediterraneo da trent'anni—di solito da piccole imbarcazioni. Parlerà dello studio dei cetacei in natura, spiegando i suoi metodi di indagine preferiti e come le informazioni acquisite su campo possano contribuire alla tutela di questi affascinanti mammiferi marini.

Giovanni Bearzi, Ph.D., Pew Marine Conservation Fellow, è Presidente di Dolphin Biology and Conservation

07 March 2017

Close your eye

A bottlenose dolphin closes her eye while surfacing in a tight formation with two others.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

04 March 2017

Dolphins-fisheries interactions

Giovanni during a seminar at the University of Ferrara, talking about competitive and food-web interactions between dolphins and Mediterranean fisheries (including coastal aquaculture).

03 March 2017

Dolphins in Ferrara

Giovanni Bearzi and Stefano Mazzotti, Director of the Ferrara Museum of Natural History, with a crowd of interested participants and a supervising skeleton. The event, part of the Darwin Day celebration series, focused on shifting perceptions of whales and dolphins, the difference between conservation and animal welfare, dolphin research in the Gulf of Corinth, and the greatness of Charles Darwin.

Thank you Giorgio Bertorelle (University of Ferrara) and Stefano Mazzotti for a lively evening.

(Photos by S. Bonizzoni)

23 February 2017

Mediterranean monk seal near bather

This photo, taken in July 2013, shows a Mediterranean monk seal near an unaware bather. The seal foraged in the area for a relatively long time, unnoticed by several bathers and people on the beach. Sometimes, lack of monk seal reports may not relate to lack of animals (as scientists would put it: "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence").

(Photo by G. Bearzi, Northern Evoikos Gulf, Greece)

20 February 2017

Full splendor

Striped dolphin in full splendor.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

17 February 2017

Common dolphin babysitting a newborn striped dolphin

A short-beaked common dolphin babysitting a newborn striped dolphin?
Join us in the Gulf of Corinth and discover why.


(Photo by M. Silveira Da Ferreira, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

14 February 2017

Lively eyes

A surfacing striped dolphin with beautiful lively eyes.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

10 February 2017

Flying bottlenose dolphins

These spectacular leaps, often considered "play", are often related to aggressive behaviour.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

06 February 2017

DBC core team

Dolphin Biology and Conservation's core team during a meeting in Cordenons, Italy. Left to right: Nina, Giovanni, Lavinia and Silvia.

02 February 2017


Bottlenose dolphin in the Bay of Itea.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

18 January 2017

12 January 2017

Dolphin Biology Weeks - 2017

You can join us in the field for a “Dolphin Biology Week”.

A Dolphin Biology Week will provide you with opportunities of monitoring dolphins and other fauna in the Gulf of Corinth, together with experienced marine biologists who have been studying Mediterranean dolphins for a long time.

This one-week programme includes informal seminars on marine conservation and data collection during boat surveys. Through a direct involvement in field activities you will learn how the researchers manage to locate, track and photo-identify individual dolphins at sea. You will discover how a regular monitoring of the study area can contribute to the understanding of dolphin ecology and conservation needs.

For more information: www.dolphinbiology.org/weeks/

19 November 2016

Breaching striped dolphin

A striped dolphin breaches close to our research boat.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

16 November 2016

Grey herons

Grey herons Ardea cinerea flying over the Bay of Itea, Greece.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

05 November 2016

White belly

A well-known male bottlenose dolphin shows his belly while jumping.

(Photo by L. Eddy, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)

04 November 2016

Seabird trio

Two seagulls and one shearwater try to catch fish as tuna keep the fish school close to the surface.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, Gulf of Corinth, Greece)