It was the beginning of the week for our new team of Earthwatch volunteers. One hour after leaving Mytikas, we came across a dolphin group on the eastern side Kalamos Island. Initially, we were surprised by the size of the group. They were about 20 individuals swimming quietly in a tight formation; something pretty rare for any of the two dolphin species historically present in the area (short-beaked common dolphins and common bottlenose dolphins). The surprise came when we recognised the beautifully patterned striped dolphins. This was the second sighting for the species in the core of the study area in over 20 years of regular research.
Striped dolphins are known as curious creatures that frequently interact with boats. The sighting lasted two hours and for most of the time we had no less that 5 individuals bow-riding and “checking us out”. The calm crystal-clear waters provided opportunity to observe them occasionally socializing right below us. It was quite a performance fully completed by regular aerial behaviour and breaching on both sides of our inflatable. Three days after this event, we still cannot erase a silly smile from our faces while writing these lines.
An unusual encounter like this highlights the importance of continuing to monitor this former paradise, which used to give us many moments like this but that unfortunately, nowadays are more and more rare. Definitely… striping!
Ioannis & Joan