Cetaceans are protected by European law, but in order to develop effective protection guidelines, education and research is necessary to find out much more about the cetaceans, and the pressures they face.
The BDRI has educational and research programmes aimed at providing extra support for scientist early in their careers, science students, local students and scientist from developing countries - from training opportunities in the field, grants, to online and field courses.
The BDRI’s main focus is to contribute towards a more detailed understanding of the relationships between bottlenose dolphins and human activities. To contribute to this objective during this field season we will work on the following objectives:
• Determine abundance, mortality rate, and birth rate of dolphins within the north-eastern Sardinia
• Identify individual dolphins, describe the patterns of association of bottlenose dolphins and describe the way in which their social separation is related to the way in which dolphins respond to the food patches created by humans
• Document habitat use and a more detailed understanding of the relationships between bottlenose dolphins - fisheries (gill-nets and trawlers) and aquaculture (obtain information on incidental capture of bottlenose dolphins in human activities)
• Mapping, in Geographic Information System (GIS), of cetacean (bottlenose dolphins, striped dolphins, common dolphins, fin whales etc.) distribution and abundance and hot-spots of interaction with human's activities in order to determine special areas of protection
• Study dolphin behaviour patterns and communication
• Compare and contrast dolphins found interacting with aquaculture with those utilizing the coastal environments
• Describe the dolphin vocalizations characteristics and changes induced by marine noise pollution
The BDRI research has a multidisciplinary approach where we currently focus on four main research projects:
Behavioural ecology of Mediterranean bottlenose dolphins:
We collect information about distribution and behaviour of free-ranging common bottlenose dolphins from different platforms. By using different behavioural sampling methods this study is particularly focused in the interaction of dolphins with human activities as fisheries, aquaculture and marine traffic. These studies provide values insight for the conservation of this top predator in an area characterized by high anthropogenic pressure.
Wild bottlenose dolphins ’ communication:
We obtain knowledge of how individuals within a population of common bottlenose dolphins communicate and what they are communicating. This can generate information ranging from; measures of habitat use, social relevance, geographical variation, cultural transmission to genetic fitness that can be applied to conservation. Although many vocalizations have been described before in the literature, the sounds produced during specific behaviours linked with human activities provides additional contextual information about their potential use as communication signals.
The bottlenose dolphin role in the coastal ecosystem:
We work with ecosystem models where we try to address the impacts caused by the interactions between human activities and bottlenose dolphins. An ecosystem modelling approach becomes an interesting tool to examine the impact of fisheries and aquaculture on bottlenose dolphins and vice versa. Mass-balance models are built to characterize the role of dolphins in a coastal ecosystem conditioned by human activities.
Pelagic cetaceans off Sardinian coast:
Data about distribution of pelagic cetaceans (fin whales, sperm whales, beaked whales, striped dolphins, common dolphins, risso’s dolphins etc.) are collected from multiple platforms including shore and research vessel based platforms. The behaviour and distribution of large cetaceans observed off Sardinia is still unknown. While some animals could be in migration between the Ligurian and Thyrrenian Sea, others could be mainly engaged in foraging activities. To address this question the BDRI has since 2011 carried out this project.
Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute BDRI
Via A. Diaz 4,Golfo Aranci (O-T) 07020 Italy
Tel +39 3460815414
Tel +39 0789 1831197
The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute is a marine science centre for Research, Education and training in cetaceans’ ecology and behaviour. Students and volunteers can participate in hands-on research on wild bottlenose dolphins and other cetaceans along the emerald coast in Sardinia, Italy. The Bottlenose Dolphin Research Institute offers through the Internship, Volunteer and Field research Course programs hands-on experience in marine mammal research, boat based field work, intensive training and mentoring in marine ecology. It is a great opportunity for interested individuals to go abroad and participate in the BDRI programs during their gap year or to learn about cetacean’s ecology and behaviour during the holidays. The education and training programs will all take part on the north-eastern coast of Sardinia, a true marine biologist’s paradise. Any reproduction of the photographs, art, or other contents
is prohibited without written permission.