Saving the Black Sea
Issue 8, June 2005
Official Publication of the Commission on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution and the
GEF Ecosystems Recovery Project
Towards a new European Thematic Strategy on the Protection and Conservation of the Marine Environment [>>]
EC Assistance to the Black Sea Commission [>>]
BSC and UNEP Take Action Against the Marine Litter [>>]
The Implementation of the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan – A Bulgarian Perspective [>>]
Turkey Implements the Black Sea Strategic Action Plan [>>]
Protection and rehabilitation of the Black and Azov Seas in Ukraine [>>]
Black Sea Contingency Plan to the Protocol on Cooperation in Com-bating Pollution of the Black Sea by Oil and Other Harmful Sub-stances in Emergency Situations [>>]
Cooperation between Black Sea and Baltic Sea Experts [>>]
Black Sea GIS [>>]
Ukraine – Key Events in Environ-mental Management [>>]
Georgian Black Sea is important wintering habitat of cetaceans [>>]
Results of EuropeAid Project 2002 – 2004 in Russian Federation [>>]
The Black Sea "Shell Palace” [>>]
Black Sea Action Day [>>]
ICZM Progress in Romania [>>]
Black Sea Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation [>>]
International Black Sea Day: an Event for the Whole Public [>>]
From Black to Blue: A Sea Being Saved [>>]
Before 2005, field research of Black Sea cetaceans has been carried out mainly during warm period of a year, from May to October. There-fore, very little was known about their distribution all over the basin within cold season.
As far back as the beginning of the 20th century, it was suggested that plentiful herds of dolphins and por-poises may occur every winter along the Caucasian coast and, particu-larly, in the inshore waters between Poti and Batumi (Georgia), because this area represents key wintering grounds for the anchovy (Engraulis encrasicolus ponticus), principal prey of all three Black Sea cetacean species.
However, no dedicated investigation has been conducted so far to test this hypothesis.
© Alexei Birkun
A shipboard line transect survey was realized from 18-20 January 2005 by joint Georgian, Russian and Ukrain-ian research team to assess the dis-tribution and abundance of harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena), short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) and common bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops trun-catus) in Georgian territorial (12-miles-wide) waters from Cape Anaklia in the north to Turkish state boundary near Sarp in the south. A total of 211 kilometers of observa-tion effort along eight zigzag track-lines crossed evenly the study area of 2320 square kilometers.
The analysis of results was per-formed with the help of ‘Distance 3.5’ program package.
The photo-identification catalogue of dolphin dorsal fins was estab-lished for this part of the sea in ac-cordance with EUROPHLUKES protocol.
High indices of cetaceans density, estimated for P. phocoena (1.54 in-dividuals/km2; CV=26.48%) and D. delphis (4.18 individuals/km2; CV=31.36%), confirmed that the Georgian Black Sea is indeed impor-tant wintering/foraging area for ma-rine mammals of these two species.
At the same time, the third Black Sea species, T. truncatus, was not recorded at all, and this unexpected fact necessitates further research and interpretation.
Is there seasonal need in special or extra measures to protect cetaceans in this area? That is a question for further discussion among marine biologists and conservationists.
This ‘Afalina-2005’ project was im-plemented by researchers from the Brema Laboratory (Simferopol), Marine Ecology and Fisheries Re-search Institute (Batumi) and Insti-tute of Ecology and Evolution (Moscow) with financial support from the Utrish Dolphinarium Ltd. (Moscow).
Alexei Birkun, Jr.
Members of joint research team