Ischia Dolphin Project
The waters off the Island of Ischia offer a unique opportunity for the study of cetaceans. Since 1991 the presence of seven different Mediterranean cetacean species was here recorded.
The study area is well known for its important pelagic biodiversity. The region was described as a feeding ground for fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus), feeding and breeding ground for striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba), Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus), and social units of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus). At last, the area has been listed in the last IUCN Cetacean Action Plan (redlist.org) as critical habitat for the endangered short beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis). Occasionally bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and pilot whales (Globicephala melas) are also encountered.
Since 1997 the research focused on the area of the canyon of Cuma, a deep submarine system of canyons located north to the island. Submarine canyons play and important role in biologic events and they are often areas of high biodiversity for their oceanographic characteristics.
The presence in this relatively small area of seven different species gives to the project a unique occasion to study and compare the behavioural ecology of the different species. Main goal of the project is the conservation of the habitat used by whales and dolphins, habitat which is always more corrupted and threatened by human activities.
The study produced in the years a relevant amount of data that contributed to the establishment of the Marine Protected Area “Regno di Nettuno” (Neptune’s Kingdom) of the islands of Ischia Procida and Vivara. Delphis succeeded in the insertion in the MPA of part of the canyon of Cuma.
On board we offer lectures on cetology: the research on cetaceans in the Italian seas, the key areas for the study of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean, conservation and preservation, evolution, adaptation to the marine environment, classification, insight into the cetaceans of the Mediterranean and in particular of the studied species, bioacoustics, social behaviour and interaction with fisheries.
Participants leave every day to sail, according to the project and weather conditions. Their duties onboard consist in helping researchers monitoring dolphins. Dolphin behaviour is recorded together with geographic position, group size, group composition, group formation, surface activity patterns and duration of surfacing intervals. Behavioural sampling is coupled with acoustic recording of dolphin vocalisations, in order to relate the sounds produced by the animals to different behavioural activities. Navigation data are collected in order to estimate dolphins relative sighting frequencies.
Seamanship: interested volunteers can learn the main riggings to sail as steering, hoisting and striking the sails, take confidence with sheets, halyard, compass and courses... furthermore they can collaborate with the crew during the mooring
Accomodation: you will live on board of "Jean Gab " cutter of 17.70 m. Historical boat, built in 1930 in Marseilles, designed by André Mauric famous french architect who planned also France I and II of the Baron Bic (America's Cup), Pen Duick VI (Whitbread, Eric Tabarly), Kritter VII, Calypso and Alcyone (Jacques Cousteau). The structure of Jean Gab is oak and Oregon's pine, the boat is equipped with underwater microphones and videocameras.