​November - Month of dolphins

We continue our “Month of..” campaign where we dedicate the whole month to an interesting species from the Bulgarian fauna. This time the "Natura 2000 in Bulgaria - New Horizons" project dedicates November to cetaceans.

Considered one of the most intelligent animals on Earth, dolphins have a number of characteristics – they are mammals that give birth, breastfeed and raise their young, just like us humans; possessing the unique ability to use echolocation.
There are 3 species of cetaceans in the Black Sea - 2 species of dolphins - Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) and Short-beaked Common Dolphin (Delphinus delphis), and one species of porpoise -
Harbour Porpoise (Phocoena phocoena). All three species are endemic to the Black Sea - meaning they differ from their related species, including those found in the neighboring Mediterranean. The reason is the closed nature of the Black Sea basin, as their isolation has led to changes and adaptations over a period of thousands of years.

Cetaceans in the Black Sea are predators - they feed on fish and are at the top of the food chain, which defines them as an important indicator of the state of the Black Sea ecosystem. Their absence from the ecosystem would upset its ecological balance and its proper functioning as a whole.
In the past, Black Sea cetaceans were subject to industrial whaling, which lasted until 1983, when the last Black Sea country joined the moratorium on whaling. After this period, no rapid recovery of populations was observed, the reason for that was the slow reproduction of the species - late sexual maturation and long period of care for the young, on the one hand and on the other – the excessive exploitation of marine resources (overfishing), entanglement in fishing nets (mostly porpoises), habitat damage, pollution and others.
Nowadays, the number of cetaceans in the Black Sea is estimated to between 200 and 400,000 individuals, but an overall estimate of the populations of the 3 cetacean species is not available. They are protected by national legislation and a number of international conventions, due to the limited territory they inhabit and their low numbers.
In order to preserve them for future generations, it is necessary to take strict measures to reduce the anthropogenic impact not only on cetaceans, but also on all marine organisms and the Black Sea ecosystem as a whole.
Cetaceans are protected by a number of international agreements, the Biodiversity Act, and currently a total of 14 marine protected areas, part of the European ecological network Natura 2000, include in their subject and objectives the conservation of cetaceans.
These are: Aladzha banka (BG0001500), Aheloy - Ravda - Nessebar (BG0000574), Galata (BG0000103), Lake Durankulak (BG0000154), Lake Shabla-Ezerets (BG0000621), Emine-Irakli (BG0001004), Emona (BG0001501), Kamchiya (BG0000116), Kaliakra Complex (BG0000573), Plazh Shkorpilovtsi (BG0000100), Plazh Gradina - Zlatna ribka (BG0000146), Ropotamo (BG0001001), Otmanli (BG0001502) and Strandzha (BG0001007).
Our work:

Since 2005 Green Balkans has been implementing a program for the study and conservation of cetaceans, which includes research and data collection, capacity building and raising public awareness. Activities include:
• Expeditions for research of cetaceans in the Bulgarian territorial waters with a vessel;
• Collection of information on washed ashore cetaceans;
• Photo-identification of cetaceans;
• Mitigating the impact of fishing on cetaceans;
• Collection of acoustic data for the presence of dolphins and porpoises on our coast with the help of specially developed devices - FPOD - provided free of charge by Chelonia Limited.
• Educational activities and public events.
How can I help:

• Join the activities for research of cetaceans - for contacts: Dimitar Popov, project manager - e-mail: dpopov@greenbalkans.org;
• Collect information - about washed ashore cetaceans or observations that you can enter in the online application Black Sea Watch;
• Get involved in information activities to promote cetaceans. For contacts HERE;
• Or make a DONATION.
You can learn more about cetaceans HERE, as well as on our Facebook and Instagram pages throughout November - #MonthOfDolphins.
The "Month of ..." information campaign is implemented within:

Green Balkans
Hobby Tv
Natura 2000