We all woke up that day to a beautiful sunrise reflecting off the surface of the water. It was a calm day; the sea state was only a 0 in Porto Montenegro and a 1 for the beginning of the survey. Perfect for dolphin sightings. We were all very excited about the boat survey. Learning about the native dolphin species in the area, of which we have seen striped and the common bottlenose before, to see them up close would be an incredible experience for those of us who had never been out on the chance discovery before.
We were split into two groups and took hourly shifts to scan the surrounding sea. Leaving the bay, we were sure we would see a dolphin, as earlier surveys have seen them regularly in the same area we were sure the pod would be there again. Looking through our bino’s there were many occasions where we thought we had seen movement in the water. A break in the water, movement in the distance. Sadly, all of which were either jumping fish, which we seem to get a lot of, or just the waves.
Though this would not dishearten us, as we drove out of the bay into the open ocean it was spectacular. Water stretching for miles upon miles. Though we had still not seen a dolphin sighting, being on the open water you had a lot of time to think. Whilst scanning the water there’s a nervous thrill sitting in your stomach, knowing at any moment a dorsal fin could appear in the distance. You never realise how lucky you are to be somewhere until the opportunity to reflect arises. The Montenegro dolphin project has taught us all a lot of skills and will continue to do so every day.
The wind picked up well and we let down the sails and glided effortlessly across the water. It’s a rare occasion where the wind is strong enough to allow for this. The sea state began to worsen and looking into binoculars became far too horrendous to use. For those who have never looked through bino’s when on a sailboat, it is very difficult, it takes a lot of effort to ensure you don’t make yourself dizzy and confused by the sudden drop and rise of the bow.
There may be many days where dolphins are not seen and there are many factors which could influence these changes. No data can sometimes be the most influential information. There had been mild storms in the days prior to the survey which could be the reason for no dolphin sightings. Nevertheless, after a tiring 2nd half of the journey, no dolphin sightings, yet a very fore filled team who enjoyed every minute. Hopefully the next time, our beloved dolphins will re-join us.
BSc Marine & Freshwater Conservation student