Cetacean aerial survey in the Adriatic sea


The Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation is joining The Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) from Rome, Italy in carrying out an aerial survey on the distribution and abundance of bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) and other species of conservation concern in the entire Adriatic Sea. This survey will provide first complete data at the basin level on distribution and abundance of this protected species, which will constitute baseline data for a full assessment of their conservation status.


The survey starts on 30th of July 2010 from Treviso (Italy), near Venice. A team of three scientists, accompanied by Dr. Gregory Donovan - the International Whaling Commission Head of Science - on board of a small two engine high-winged plane, will cross the Adriatic Sea numerous times on transect lines connecting eastern and western shores.

The project is funded by the Fishery Department of Italian Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry, the Italian Ministry of Environment and the State Institute for Nature Protection (SINP), Croatia. The latter provided additional funding for increasing the survey effort along Croatian coasts.


This research method has been extensively applied world-wide to fulfill with national and international obligations for the conservation of cetaceans. For example, in the USA the National Marine Fisheries Service of NOAA is routinely using it within the framework of national commitments to the US Marine Mammal Protection Act.


The research is endorsed by the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area (ACCOBAMS), as it's carrying out presents a clear statement from the member states of their aim in securing favorable conservation status of this species in their national waters. All relevant national institutions of Adriatic countries (Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, Montenegro and Albania) have supported this project and issued needed research and flight permits.


The research team is composed by Caterina Fortuna, Elio Filidei - from ISPRA - and Drasko Holcer from Blue World/Croatian Natural History Museum. During the second week of survey local scientists from different bordering countries (e.g. Italy and Slovenia) will be visiting the researchers to be partially trained and to exchange experience.


During the survey data on sightings of other big vertebrate species will be recorded, like loggerhead turtle (Caretta caretta), the devil ray (Mobula mobular), white (Carharodon carharias) and basking sharks (Cethorinus maximus) and potentially others marine creatures (e.g. the sunfish). 




Map with aircraft location live-feed. You can also see previous tracks. Active from 30th of July 2010.


For further information on the project details please contact:

Mr. Draško Holcer

Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation

Croatian Natural History Museum (CNHM)

mbl +385 91 4637424 or Drasko.Holcer@blue-world.org