23 April 2018

Giant smokestack

The giant smokestack of the now-dismissed thermoelectric factory of Porto Tolle, in the Po River delta, acts as a primary visual reference during our dolphin surveys in the NW Adriatic – especially when we are far offshore and there is nothing else in sight. The smokestack, 250 m high, is reportedly the tallest non-metallic structure of this kind in Italy.

(Photos by G. Bearzi, NW Adriatic Sea)

Sea of buoys

Mariculture off Chioggia, Italy.

There seems to be little information on the negative impacts of this kind of marine farming gear. These buoys are used for shellfish (mussel) farms situated offshore, e.g. see THIS LINK. Mussel farms are known to attract marine life, including marine organisms feeding on mussels or mussel fouling. A source of concern is represented by the discarded or lost nylon nets—called "reste"—used to contain and grow the mussels. Such ghost fishing gear represents a likely threat to marine life, besides adding to the overall plastic load of our seas.

(Photo by G. Bearzi, NW Adriatic Sea)

20 April 2018

Following a trawler

A group of bottlenose dolphins surface in a tight formation above a trawling net.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

19 April 2018


Getting ready for a morning survey.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

18 April 2018

Dolphins and Adriatic LNG Terminal

Two bottlenose dolphins surface about 2 nm away from the Adriatic LNG Terminal.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

17 April 2018

High bow

One of the bottlenose dolphins observed yesterday, performing a spectacular high bow near our inflatable.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

16 April 2018

Feeding behind Adriatic trawlers

Today we observed a group of about 20 bottlenose dolphins following a bottom trawler to feed inside the towed net, as well as on bycatch discarded by the fishers.

(Photos by S. Bonizzoni, NW Adriatic Sea)

11 April 2018

At the ECS conference in La Spezia, Italy

Silvia presenting her work at the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society.

(Photos by A. Scheinin)

06 April 2018

Predicting dolphin distribution within an Important Marine Mammal Area in Greece

Silvia is attending the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society in La Spezia, Italy (6-10 April 2018).

On Sunday she is going to make a verbal presentation, summarising our work on dolphins in the Gulf of Corinth. The abstract is copied below.

Predicting dolphin distribution within an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) in Greece to support spatial management planning

Bonizzoni S (1,2), Furey NB (1,3), Valavanis VD (4), Bearzi G (1,2)

1) Dolphin Biology and Conservation, Cordenons, Italy
2) OceanCare, Wädenswil, Switzerland
3) University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada
4) Marine Geographic Information Systems Lab, Hellenic Centre for Marine Research, Iraklion, Greece

The success of a marine protected area depends on knowledge of distribution and habitat use by the species it aims to protect. The Gulf of Corinth, a 2400 km2 semi-enclosed embayment in Greece, has been identified as an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) based on the satisfaction of all four selection criteria for IMMA status. In this area, three odontocete species can be predictably encountered within 11 km of the nearest coast: striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba, common dolphins Delphinus delphis and common bottlenose dolphins Tursiops truncatus. Striped dolphins occur in single-species groups or in mixed groups with common dolphins, whereas bottlenose dolphins only occur in single-species groups. We used a seven-year (2011–2017) dataset comprising 29907 km of boat-based visual surveys and 3448 km (590 h) of dolphin follows to predict striped and bottlenose dolphin distribution in the entire Gulf. Multiple geographic, bathymetric, oceanographic and anthropogenic variables were incorporated in a combined generalized additive model and generalized estimation equation framework (GAM-GEE) to describe dolphin occurrence and construct maps of predictive distributions. Modelling indicated that striped dolphins prefer deep (>300 m) oligotrophic waters in the central and southern part of the Gulf; bottlenose dolphins prefer shallow (<300 m) waters and areas close to fish farms along the northern-central shores. Spatial distribution of dolphin suitable habitats was predicted by using the retained variables identified in species-specific models. Prediction maps of dolphin distribution identified 1) a core dolphin habitat of approximately 1600 km2 (encompassing two thirds of the entire Gulf surface), and 2) a clear partitioning of striped and bottlenose dolphin distribution, calling for separate management measures within each species' core habitat, threatened by different anthropogenic impacts of concern. The results of this study can inform spatial management and ensure meaningful conservation action, consistent with IMMA designation.

Bonizzoni S., Furey N.B., Valavanis V.D., Bearzi G. 2018. Predicting dolphin distribution within an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) in Greece to support spatial management planning. Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the European Cetacean Society. La Spezia, Italy, 6-10 April 2018.

I nostri amici DELFINI (since 1994)

Twenty-four years after its first edition for refugee children in Croatia, the booklet Our Friends the Dolphins is still popular.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

04 April 2018

Dolphin booklets in use

Today we distributed a bunch of our newly-printed dolphin booklets to primary school children, as a follow up to Silvia's presentation.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

Dolphins at primary school - 2

Silvia giving a dolphin lecture to primary school children.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

Dolphins at primary school - 1

Today's presentation at Istituto Comprensivo Alberto Manzi, Cordenons. We are grateful to Piera Franzo for inviting us.

(Photos by G. Bearzi)

29 March 2018

New 'dolphin friends' booklets

Thanks to support provided by OceanCare, we just printed two thousand copies of the children booklet "Our Friends the Dolphins" (see http://www.dolphinbiology.org/_media/dolphinfriends/).

These educational colouring booklets will be distributed to children during our lectures at schools.

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

28 March 2018

Dolphins at ICT Kennedy, Pordenone

Today's seminar at the Advanced Technical Institute ICT Kennedy, Pordenone.

(Photo by S. Bonizzoni)

Just before the talk

Today's seminar at the Advanced Technical Institute ICT Kennedy, Pordenone. 

(Photo by G. Bearzi)

Avvicinare il Mare, 28 marzo 2018

Today in Pordenone: during a 2-hour seminar Giovanni shares his marine biology experience with students to get them "close to the sea".

For more information: http://www.dolphinbiology.org/avvicinare/

On the boat again

We're on the boat again... this time in the Adriatic Sea.

20 February 2018

Searching for meaning in marine mammal shared data


Bearzi G., Gimenez O. 2018. Searching for meaning in marine mammal shared data. Ethics in Science and Environmental Politics 18:9-13.

Open access and freely available at:

ABSTRACT - The sharing of marine mammal data is a worthwhile practice, but there are caveats. Data interpretation may be difficult, sometimes resulting in misleading information or inappropriate formulation of research questions. Here, we point out some of the challenges when dealing with shared marine mammal datasets. We emphasize the importance of collecting, publishing and sharing data in ways that can produce unbiased and meaningful knowledge, ultimately inspiring and directing management action. Finally, we suggest that bridging the gap between data sharing and data reuse will require enhanced spatially referenced online databases as well as direct collaboration between the data analysts and the field researchers who possess relevant place-based expertise.

18 February 2018

Old story, new beginnings

Our dolphin research station in the Po river delta, Italy. New beginnings... in our beloved Adriatic Sea where it all started back in 1987.


(Photos by G. Bearzi)

03 February 2018

Voglio fare il biologo marino

"I want to be a marine biologist", the seminar held today in Pordenone, offered tips to students interested in a career in marine science and conservation. Thanks to High School Leopardi-Majorana for hosting the event!

Becoming a marine biologist in Pordenone

Today's presentation on "becoming a marine biologist" targeted about 80 students of the High School Leopardi-Majorana in Pordenone, Italy.

(Photos by M.E. Rossi)

01 February 2018

When animals grieve on National Wildlife

The latest issue of National Wildlife features a short interview with Giovanni Bearzi (among others) within an article on ANIMAL GRIEVING by journalist Barry Yeoman.

The article can be read online at THIS LINK.