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Help Mediterranean dolphins
14 years ago
Delphis MDC is a non profit organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of cetaceans in Italy . Since 1991 volunteers and students have been invaluable in the collection, organization and research analysis of data which are fundamental to our understanding and current knowledge of the distribution and the ecology of these animals in the waters of Ischia , Gulf of Naples , Italy. We are currently looking to fill volunteer positions for our 2005 field season , which runs from June to October. Our main focus is on a relic population unit of endangered short beaked common dolphins that spend summer months in the rich waters of the island of Ischia , in a zone corresponding to the submarine canyon of Cuma. The study area is well known for its high pelagic biodiversity. The region is also important for cetacean species, being described as a feeding site for fin whales, feeding and breeding ground for striped and Risso’s dolphins, and transient zone for nursery groups of sperm whales. Furthermore, the area has been listed in the last IUCN Cetacean Action Plan as critical habitat for the endangered short beaked common dolphins. The research is providing a series of remarkable data that allow the definition of hot spots for the evaluation and the maintenance of the biodiversity. Identifying cetaceans' critical habitats and determining the existing relationships between the animal's distribution and behaviour and the geomorphology of the area could represent a base for monitoring these species as bio-indicators of the environmental quality. The safeguard of the cetaceans, actually, involves the protection of wide range of species that share the environment. Unfortunately the cetaceans of Ischia, further to be offended from indirect threats as pollution or global change, suffer from direct threats: Our observations took place in the busy summer seasons, when pleasure boats and ferries crowd these waters. Commercial and passenger traffic in the Gulf of Naples and nearby islands (Ischia, Procida and Vivara) reportedly exceeds 200,000 trips/year, and up to 2,000 pleasure boats may be moored during the summer in the ports of Ischia. Ship collisions in the area have been documented for cetacean species including striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, sperm and fin whales, while a dramatic harassment event on Risso's dolphins has been reported by Miragliuolo et al. (2004). Despite the relatively high abundance of vulnerable cetacean population units, the waters around Ischia are commonly used for extemporaneous offshore races, implementation of coastal speed limits being virtually non existent. An ulterior threat for cetaceans and common dolphins of the area is constituted by the increasing number of fishing boats equipped for the catch of swordfishes and that utilise driftnets, well known for the high number of bycatch. Notwithstanding the EU band on the driftnetting fishery, started on January 1st, 2002, illegal fishing with driftnets is still a problem around the Island of Ischia. This fishery is reportedly impacting local cetacean communities, with documented bycatch events involving striped dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, sperm and fin whales. Animals showed body mutilations and lesions indicative of bycatch in driftnets. To support dolphin conservation and studies you could join our project for a week or more, as a volunteer member of our research team, please visit our web at and apply for 2005 field courses. As a member of the research team participants will learn and apply the principles of field research design as they participate in our ongoing field studies. They will gain a personal understanding of conservation and welfare issues, which drive our research activities Everyone who completes the programme will leave with an improved knowledge in methods of digital photo –identification, improved techniques of study of cetacean behaviour and bioacoustic, use of programmes and vehicles designated to the research, GIS, use of research instruments such as hydrophones,underwater cameras, GPS ect. The position will involve field data collection aboard our 17,70m research sailing boat. In short , a very rewarding experience in the introduction to whale and dolphin identification, data collection and wildlife viewing. Students and /or volunteers interested in participating should provide a brief resume including their studies/ background, personal details and interests, preferred dates of participation and contact our coordinator for the field positions , Lina Bertone email
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