All aboard our fishing vessel, binoculars poised we set off from Bar port on Friday afternoon with one purpose to find dolphins! The beaufort conditions were a 2 with little cloud cover and no glare.
After an hour and a half of searching we saw our first group of bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncates). They were sighted around fishing vessels which has started to become normal behaviour. Dolphins normally travel in groups as they are very social animals.
We followed this group of dolphins for approximatley half an hour. There was about 4-6 dolphins in the group with 2-3 calfs sighted. They did not seem to be reacting to the boat diving as a group near the boat.
We then saw another group of bottlenose dolphins (tursiops truncates) also around a fishing vessel, for around an hour we were able to observe these dolphins in five-minute intervals travelling, diving and socialising within the area of the vessel.
Dolphins have been spotted following fishing vessels and trawlers in this area which is not normal behaviour for them. Overfishing of the Adriatic Sea is thought to be leaving the dolphins lacking a sustainable food supply. A lot of the research being done by this project to understand the behaviours of dolphins within the area, as they are now classed as vulnerable from years of culling. It is important to understand the impacts of fishing and other environmental pressures on dolphins in order to protect the species.
Approaching sunset, we were in for a treat with the second group of dolphins putting on a show for us leaping out of the water and swimming up to our research boat, even swimming under the boat at one point.
What an amazing first day on the project!!