About us

Research and conservation of dolphins & Mediterranean monk seals

Since 1991, the Ionian Dolphin Project aims to ensure the long-term viability of marine mammals living in coastal waters of the eastern Ionian Sea.

Dolphins and Mediterranean monk seals inhabiting the coastal waters of Greece are facing significant threats. Some of them must deal with increasing human encroachment, while others have disappeared altogether from portions of their former range.

Tethys Research Institute is providing support to conservation efforts, through actions including:

  • continued monitoring of marine mammals through field research methods including boat surveys and individual photoidentification, to detect population trends and identify critical habitat;
  • monitoring threats to local marine ecosystems (e.g., pollution, overfishing);
  • public awareness, education and capacity building initiatives (e.g., training fellow scientist in cetacean research techniques, presentations to the local communities, lectures at schools, production of education materials);
  • establishing synergies with stakeholders (e.g., authorities, fishers’ cooperatives), aimed to raise awareness on the need of developing measures to protect marine mammals and implement existing regulations (e.g., to prevent illegal fishing);
  • dissemination of information in the scientific literature and delivery of management proposals to international agreements and bodies concerned with the protection of marine biodiversity

The coastal waters of Greece still harbour a remarkable diversity of marine mammal fauna compared to other parts of the Mediterranean. Yet, such richness is decreasing due to degradation of the marine environment and other human-driven impacts. We conduct research and conservation activities aimed at identifying measures to slow-down, halt or reverse such trends.

While today’s abundance of whales and dolphins is likely only a fragment of what it was a century ago, important populations still live and reproduce in the Greek seas. Ensuring the long-term survival of healthy dolphin populations must become a priority, as advocated by the EC Habitats Directive and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and consistent with national commitments to preserve cetaceans and marine biodiversity.

In the past few years, we are also dedicating significant effort to address the threats posed to the Mediterranean monk seal and its core Ionian habitat. The present condition of this endangered species is at the same time very exciting (due to unprecedented and increasing numbers of sightings) but in parallel very worrisome due to an urgent need to mitigate disturbance in the seals’ critical habitat.

© Copyright - Ionian Dolphin Project - Web Design: Elena Politi