The number of recreational sailors, charter boats and flotilla sailing holiday companies operating around the Ionian Islands has steadily increased during the last couple of decades. This increase in boat traffic and the resulting disturbance pose a threat to cetacean populations and may cause unnecessary stress to the animals. Keeping this in mind and based also on our direct experiences when being frequently approached by sailing boats at sea while doing our behavioural observations on dolphin groups, last year the IDP started the BE DOLPHIN SMART campaign.
Well, I am very happy to say that the Being dolphin SMART message seems to be progressively reaching an audience willing to follow its very simple and straight forward guidelines. Yesterday, 14th of June, two sailing boats approached the area where we were recording the behavioural samples and photoidentifying a group of 5 bottlenose dolphins close to Meganisi Island.
The first sailing boat arrived just a few minutes after we spotted the dolphin group, staying in the area for about half an hour. During this time the two people onboard were observing the dolphins with binoculars at a minimum distance of about 100m and kept their engine in neutral for most of the time. The second one arrived about half an hour later, was approached momentarily by the dolphins, stayed in the area for a few more minutes and continued with its navigation without doing any other attempt to approach the dolphins.
Since the sea conditions were ideal and there was no risk of loosing track of the animals we decided to approach each one of those boats before they left the area to thank them for being SMART. Both boats belonged to Sunsail and their crews confirmed us to be aware about the IDP sightings network and about the SMART guidelines.
Sunsail is not the only company helping us to promote the IDP sightings network and Be dolphin SMART guidelines. Our friends from Sailing Holidays, Neilson, Sail Ionian, Island Sailing, Seafarer, Kiriakoulis are also doing it. KG medmarinas management group owners of Marina Lefkas and Gouvia Marina , two of the largest in Greece, are also helping us greatly to spread the word among their clients. Those willing to join them and help the IDP are encouraged to contact us and we will provide them some support materials about being Dolphin SMART.
Watching these amazing creatures in their natural habitat can be an exhilarating experience.To see people enjoying that moment and at the same time being respectful with the animals and acknowledging our work was very special. Thank you guys!