Such an awesome day today! We saw dolphins after a long time! The dolphins of the Corinthian gulf!
Corinthian gulf is very special area for marine mammals, especially for dolphins and due to the studies of Frantzis, Bearzi, Gonzalvo and others, we know well about the population that lives there.
Having started a trip from Preveza to Kea island last week, we crossed the bay to find our way from the Ionian Sea to the Aegean, wishing to meet the dolphins! Days now, we have been talking with the children about them, watching pictures of the 4 species of dolphins lives here (striped, bottlenose, common and Risso’s dolphin) in order to recognize them. Our cameras were also ready, but the weather had other plans... and despite the good predictions we had such a rough sea that we saw everything except the dolphins...
Today, however, returning to the west, everything was so different. We sailed for hours in an incredibly calm sea when we suddenly became aware of their presence! Wherever we looked there were dolphins! Some of them were eating, others were playing while many were riding in our bow! Among them were mothers with newborn babies! As you can imagine, our joy cannot be described!
We calculated that there were over 100 dolphins around us! Most of them were striped dolphins. Here in Corinth gulf is the highest population density of striped dolphins in the Mediterranean! We also recognized a common dolphin, the species of which was once abundant , as its name suggests, but today it is unfortunately referred to as Endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
As mentioned above, Corinthiakos is a particularly important area for marine mammals. According to Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, this happens not for one but for 3 unique reasons! 1) Here is the only known place in the world where a striped dolphins population lives in an enclosed bay isolated from the open sea, although this species are pure pelagic dolphins that live in deep depths and usually far from the shore. 2) Here three different species of dolphins live together and permanently in mixed pods. 3) Nowhere else in the world, hybrids have been observed from interbreeding between striped and common dolphins!
Despite its immense importance, the bay is not well protected. A few months ago the Corinthian Gulf has been officially characterized as an Important Marine Mammal Areas (IMMAs) by the IUCN World Conservation Union. Let’s hope that now, a serious effort will be made to preserve its ecological balance in order to not lose another rare and precious ecosystem!