About Tethys Research Institute

IDP research boat and bottlenose dolphin

Founded in 1986, the Tethys Research Institute is a private non-profit organisation specialising in cetacean research.

Tethys has generated one of the largest datasets on Mediterranean cetaceans and contributed over 300 scientific publications.

Tethys aims to protect the Mediterranean biodiversity by promoting the adoption of a precautionary approach for the management of natural resources. Public outreach and conservation activities, coupled with education and capacity building, find their strength in a robust scientific background. The work carried out by Tethys strives to prevent the decline of marine species and to encourage sustainable use of the marine environment.

Tethys first conceived and proposed the creation of the Pelagos Sanctuary (in 1991) and of the Losinj Dolphin Reserve in Croatia (in 1992).

The Institute has conducted long-term studies on cetaceans in the Corso-Ligurian-Provencal basin, in the coastal waters of Greece and in the Adriatic Sea. Research has also been carried out investigating cetaceans in the Messina Strait and in several other Mediterranean and Atlantic areas, as well as aerial surveys in the seas around Italy.

Research methods utilised by Tethys include the use of remote sensing and telemetry data, the combined use of laser range-finding binoculars and GPS to record the movements of whales, population studies based on distance sampling and photographic capture-recapture, bioacoustic research, behavioural sampling, remote collection of biopsy samples for genetic and toxicological analyses, and historical studies.

The Institute holds vast photographic archives of cetacean images that have enabled the identification of over 1,500 individuals of eight Mediterranean species.

With a core team of approximately 30 collaborators, the Tethys Research Institute has involved in its expeditions thousands of people from all over the world, and has developed a remarkable cetacean research and conservation network.