Morigenos: Monitoring Dolphins in the Gulf of Trieste

By , 05 Jul 2018, 10:50 AM Lifestyle
Morigenos: Monitoring Dolphins in the Gulf of Trieste www.morigenos.org

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We got in touch with the good people at Morigenos, the Slovenian Marine Mammal Society, and asked about their work with these lesser known residents of Piran. 

July 5, 2018

Tell us about you do.

Our Slovenian Dolphin Project is the first long-term research, monitoring and conservation project in Slovenia. There was not much known about dolphins in this area before and most people believed we didn’t have dolphins. Through 16-years of research, we have confirmed that we have a small but resident population of bottlenosed dolphins (Tursiops truncatus).

The Gulf of Trieste and the surrounding waters is their home – they feed here, reproduce, raise their calves, rest, play. We have found out that the population in the Gulf of Trieste is not the same as, for example, in the area of Cres and Lošinj, and that we have at least two different subpopulations, also genetic analyses showed that “our” dolphins are very different from other dolphins in the Adriatic, and should therefore also be considered as a different conservation unit.

Social structure analyses showed that we have two different subgroups in our population that rarely mix, use the area in different temporal patterns and behave differently around fishing trawlers. Thanks to these dolphins and our head of researcher Tilen Genov, we have found out a novel method of identifying dolphins by their faces. They are not all the same, as it may seem on first look. You can read more about our findings here.

Are there organised trips to see the dolphins, or do you discourage that?

Our main objective is scientific research, and we never know where and when we’ll see dolphins, and therefore we do not organize dolphin-watching trips. However, we do organize summer research courses for anyone who would like to get a first-hand experience in dolphin research, learn more about dolphin ecology, research methods and help with the research on the Slovenian Dolphin Project for 10 days in Piran. More information is available here.

We don’t discourage organised trips of dolphin and whale-watching if they’re well managed. Things can quickly go out of hand if there are a lot of whale-watching tour operators in one area, who can disturb the animals and therefore prevent them from using the place as they want (e.g. for resting, feeding, calving,...), and so change their behaviour. Before going on whale watching, we advise checking if the operator follows some basic guidelines that can be found here. The best way to see dolphins and whales is in their natural environment in the wild, and we strongly discourage keeping them in captivity.

How can people get involved with your work?

Morigenos membership is open to anyone, we also organise various events and public awareness campaigns, we have various educational programs, adopt a dolphin program, etc. Different ways of getting involved are presented here. Besides that, anyone can help by having a responsible and positive attitude towards nature.

And if you’d like to learn more, and see more dolphins off the coast of Slovenia, then you can also follow the project on the group’s website, Facebook, or YouTube channel.

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