28 July 2007

Ionian Dolphin Project, 15-21 July 2007

Before I came to Kalamos, I did not really know what would wait there for me. And then, after a short trip on the inflatable, I saw it - a small village called Episkopi, with “our” base up on a hill. From the first moment, it looked comfortable to me. We got a quick tour through the house, interesting information and a really good dinner. So - the week could start. Early in the morning - breakfast. And then, right on the first day, we had our first sighting: we had the opportunity to see a swordfish and some tunas feeding at the surface. This was an exciting sight, but it should even get much better!!

Two days later, we (that means: Silvia, Annalise and five volunteers including myself) went near Lefkada - and on the way home there came the shout we have been waiting for: “dolphins in sight!”. Common Dolphins. I could see them, not far from us. Three adults and one juvenile. Silvia and Annalise started at once to do their work - our first sight!!! Exciting!

One got the NetPad (a palm-top computer), two others the equipment for timing respiration intervals. I was one of them ;-) Now we tried to find the difference between individual dolphins - something special on their fin - and focussed on one with a “notch” in it. To tell the truth, it wasn't very easy to follow one individual with the stop-watch. But we tried to do it as best as we could...

It was really amazing to see how they move, how elegant and smooth they slide into the water - come out again - start a new dive... You never know, what they will do next - a quick respiration, a long dive, a jump???

I cannot really tell why, but it is so satisfying to see them in their natural enviroment, to see how they interact and move... I still have the picture in my mind, when they were diving directly under our inflatable - so smooth and calm... You could see their colours, their eyes, their fins. It seemed like as if they knew, what we are doing - watching them. And they watched us as well. To follow one individual, to watch him and find out what he is doing - really fascinating and exciting!

That day got even more perfect as we saw another group of bottlenose dolphins, swimming near a fish farm. Two sightings in one day - we have been sooo lucky! And it was really great!

But not only the sightings made this week nearly perfect - almost evrything fitted together. Seven different people - everybody with other roots and expectations - but all being there for the same thing. Even though it was work, we had fun and a great time, and some really exciting days out at sea.

Thanks to everybody that made this project possible. And a lot of thanks to “our” researchers and to “OUR DOLPHINS”!!! ;)

Eva, Austria

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