09 July 2008

One of those days

It’s the 7th of July and we just came back from the sea. This morning we decided to visit the fish and mussel farms in the western side of the Amvrakikos Gulf. Aquaculture is quite widespread in our study area and it is interesting to monitor the growth and development of this local industry. Transcribing the notes taken in the small tape recorder, I review today’s events and my mind gets back to those moments.

On board of our inflatable we visited four fish farms and three mussel farms. Finding bottlenose dolphins near one of these facilities was nothing really new. What was amazing to me, after these years spent regularly surveying the Gulf, was spotting so many sea turtles: by the end of the day we ended up recording a total of 18 encounters with these marine reptiles.

On our last fish farm stop we also saw a school of mullets swimming at the surface, very close to one of the cages, and then a group of six graceful bull rays Pteromylaeus bovinus swimming underneath. I was fascinated by their kite-like silhouette while they were gliding underwater, the body shape softened by the murky waters of the Gulf. Two of these rays looked like they were were rubbing their bellies against a chain anchoring the fish cage.

While all this was going on, two bottlenose dolphins came and started diving around the cages, while another large dolphin group could be seen at a distance, surface feeding in a cloud of seagulls and terns.

This was one of those days when one gets back home completely exhausted, but also with a big smile. One of those days that help recharge your batteries after months of intensive field work and remind you how lucky you are, working in such a unique place. Just one of those unforgettable days.

Joan Gonzalvo

Photo credit: FishBase

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