Yesterday evening many eyes were set on the sky where you could see an unusually large and shiny Moon. The movement of this celestial body is predictable so the event of a Moon in perigee was announced earlier this week. Most people seized the opportunity to direct their attention and cameras towards the sky in search of unique shots that are rarely observed. Many of these pictures were published in various media earlier today. However, the Blue World Institute researchers grasped the opportunity for very particular field work, where the extremely shiny Moon would be a reason to look in a direction opposite to where others are looking.

The Blue World Institute has been conducting research of the bottlenose dolphin population in the wider area of Vis archipelago for a number of years. Using a boat, the researchers actively search for dolphins on the sea surface. When they come across a group of bottlenose dolphins, they take photographs of their dorsal fins. These images allow us to discern between individual dolphins. The method is called photo-identification and is based on using natural markings on the body and fins of a dolphin to distinguish between individuals. In normal circumstances the research is conducted during the day because it is very difficult to find agroup in low light conditions, and even harder to take photographs of sufficient quality to be used in photo-identification. However, the natural phenomenon we witnessed yesterday gave us the opportunity to set off to sea in the evening, and to use the bright moonlight and the unusually favourable weather conditions to find a group of dolphins, follow them and observe their behaviour. We took unique photos of a group of approximately dozen animals which were swimming slowly and resting near Cape Gatula on Biševo Island (Adriatic Sea, Croatia), lit up by the Supermoon.

Despite the low visibility, we were able to find a group quickly and enjoy the sight of the Moon as well as the presence of familiar dolphins. We were moving slowly beside females Coco and Leontina who were with their year old calves. Young dolphins are strongly attached to their mother, especially in their first year, so it was only expected that these females will have a faithful following. We recognised Diomed, a young dolphin that has recently left his mother Dee Dee and become independent. A male dolphin we often see around Vis Island named Vili was also in the group. The sight of dolphins breaching the surface glittering under the moonlight is truly mesmerizing!

These photographs are not only valuable because of the unique shots, but also because they will add to the entirety of data we obtained over the years and that we regularly use to better understand the resident population of dolphins in the Central Adriatic. We are unable to follow bottlenose dolphins during night as part of our regular research which is why the appearance of a large Moon has allowed us to obtain rarely available data about the behaviour of the group at night.

All of these animals are part of a population that inhabits the Vis archipelago. As part of our research in the Central Adriatic, we have collected images of almost 700 individual bottlenose dolphins. The Blue World Institute has been continuously conducting monitoring and research of bottlenose dolphins through our branch on Vis since 2007. This year research is funded through grant from the Croatian Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund. The research is aimed at getting an insight into the number of animals, their age and group composition, social interactions and the status of the population as a whole. Our goal is to use the activities of Blue World Institute to add to the efforts of protecting these animals and their environment so that images like the ones we shared can be taken again when another natural phenomenon appears in the night sky.

Additional information about our work can be found on our Web and Facebook pages.

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The Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation

Kaštel 24, 51551 Veli Lošinj, Croatia

T: +385 51 604666 F: +385 51 604668j



The Blue World Institute of Marine Research and Conservation is Croatian NGO with seat on Lošinj Island. Although our seat is in small village of Veli Lošinj, our work and interest covers the entire Adriatic Sea. In our work we strive for excellence in research, conservation and education. Our primary interest is the sea and marine biodiversity, but our activities also aim at rising the public awareness on marine conservation issues and sustainable development.