Pomorie Lake – Conservation, Restoration, and Sustainable Management
Learn more

Urgent Measures for Restoration and Conservation of Species and Habitats of European Significance within Pomorie Lake Complex of Protected Natural Areas
Learn more


Environmental Management and Conservation in Mediterranean Saltworks and Coastal Lagoons
more

 04. LIFE PROJECT

LIFE19 NAT/BG/000804

Life for Pomorie Lagoon

Find out more HERE

Български Български   Английски Английски  
[ 18.07.2019 ] The largest aerial survey of Black Sea cetacean in history ended successfully! Here are the preliminary results.
After nearly three weeks and over 12,000 km flown, the most extensive aerial survey on cetaceans in the Black Sea basin has come to an end. Preliminary results from the study in brief: 1750+ sightings of dolphins and harbour porpoises. The aerial survey was conducted over the waters of five Black Sea countries - Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia. The activities are within the CeNoBS project co-funded by the European Union.
The survey was carried out by eight experts from four Black Sea countries, splited in two teams, that flew over 12,000 km in 19 days with two Cessna Skymaster "Push-Pull" aircrafts of the French company Action Air Environment. The two teams started simultaneously from Ukraine and Georgia, observing the state of the Black Sea ecosystem over the Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia marine waters.
Coordinators of the two teams were Marian Paiu (Mare Nostrum, Romania) and Dimitar Popov (Green Balkans, Bulgaria). Their hard task was to ensure that this unique study in the history of the Black Sea cetaceans monitoring will be successfully completed.

What was the methodology used?

The two teams gathered unprecedented data on the distribution and abundance of cetaceans and seabirds in the Black Sea (Descriptor 1 Biodiversity). Marine litter (Descriptor 10) has also been recorded. More than 60 predetermined linear transects with a total length of about 7 000 km were covered, ensuring an equal coverage of the studied aquatory. For this purpose the internationally validated technique of line-transect distance-sampling was applied. For more efficient data collection, innovative software was used - SAMMOA. This is software designed to collect data for marine megafauna from aerial surveys developed by Observatoire PELAGIS (La Rochelle - CNRS, France). The software allows real-time capture of geo-coordinated visual observations captured by GPS, while the information transmitted by the observers during flight is recorded as a sound file, which significantly supports the process of subsequent data validation.
This study is the second phase of the ACCOBAMS Survey Initiative - a large-scale survey in the Mediterranean was conducted last year.

What preliminary data do we have after 19 days of aerial survey?

The preliminary data from those 7,000 km of transects covered shows that over 1,750 observations of cetaceans have been recorded, with the size of the observed groups ranging from 1 to 50 individuals. The species distribution shows that the Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus ponticus) was recorded with only 121 sightings, which is very low compared to the other two species: Harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta) and Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis ponticus). Another interesting fact is that Bottlenose dolphins were not observed in the southeastern part of Black Sea. There are 3898 observations in total for the expedition of 41 species and types of human activities (fishing, transport, waste, etc).
The mission ended in Turkey at Zonguldak Caycuma Airport, where on July 4 both teams gathered and shared impressions.

Mission obstacles in Georgia and Ukraine

The expedition was not easy for any of the members of the two observing  teams, which, however, were prepared to deal with any situation. If things went according to the plan in some regions, in others, the problems made the mission difficult. Researchers' teams were mixed, which helped a lot in overcoming the obstacles on the ground. For example, once the team arrived in Ukraine, they found out that they can`t land at the refueling technical airport, which prevented from continuing the mission. In this situation great support was provided by the team expert from Ukraine - Pavel Goldin. Another example is Georgia, where national procedures required to have a military representative on board, which affected the maximum authorized safe take-off. Among other things, there’ve been encountered multiple problems with the closed access in military or airport areas. Fortunately, the teams have managed to overcome all of these problems through the interventions of the team colleagues in other countries and with the help of the national authorities, who have understood the purpose and importance of this project. We can say that it is a historic cooperation effort from both the Black Sea basin countries and those from the outside, involving experts from Italy and France, as well as the support of ACCOBAMS Secretariat - Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the adjacent Atlantic area, both as project partner and co-financier.
The success of this expedition is also due to the openness of national authorities, who have offered their support to solve all problems on the ground. Embassies have politically facilitated dialogue with the competent institutions in the riparian countries.

THE PROJECT

«Supporting the implementation of the Marine Strategy for the Black Sea by creating a regional cetacean monitoring system (D1) and noise monitoring (D11) for achieving GES» - CeNoBS is a 24-month project co-funded by the European Union. CeNoBS involves several European partners, coordinated by the Mare Nostrum NGO/Romania and aims to improve the implementation of the second cycle of the MSFD for two key descriptors: Descriptor 1 - marine mammals/cetaceans and Descriptor 11 - noise in the Black Sea by achieving greater coherence in determining, assessing and achieving Good Environmental Status (GES).
The proposed activities will complement the lack of background data on the distribution/abundance of cetacean populations and the incidence of by-catches. The main objectives are:
- the assessment of the D1 criteria for cetaceans and the setting of threshold values
- Evaluating and supporting the development of D11 monitoring in the Black Sea
- Strengthening coordination between the Black Sea region by disseminating project activities, outputs and results.

THE PARTNERS

Mare Nostrum NGO is the coordinator of this European project.
The partners involved in the project are Romania and Bulgaria, Ukraine, Monaco and Turkey. Starting with the competent authorities in Romania -  The Romanian Ministry of Waters and Forests and the Bulgarian Black Sea Basin Directorate, together with the institutions responsible for the MSFD scientific implementation, the Institute of Oceanology - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences IO-BAS and the Institute for Marine Research and Development "Grigore Antipa" - INCDM, as well as NGO Green Balkans (Bulgaria). Other partners involved in the project activities are the Ukrainian Ecological Research Center for the Sea (UkrSECS), the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), the Karadeniz Technical University (KTU) and the Permanent Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and the adjacent Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS). And last but not least, Ilia State University, Georgia, associate partner.

WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT FOR ALL OF US?

The Black Sea is a unique ecosystem that combines conditions that are very distinct from those in the neighboring Mediterranean Sea. As a closed sea it is highly vulnerable to human impact and potential ecological disaster. At the same time, it is an important source of resources and livelihood for all of the riparian countries. We all know how important it is to care about the environment from which we pull handfuls and which we depend on to enable this environment to ensure our existence for many generations. That is why such projects for monitoring the status of key and indicator ecosystem components - such as cetaceans, for example - bring us important information on the state of the resources at sea, the causes of the negative impact, if any, and the measures that we could take, in order to guarantee the good ecological status of our sea, this sea that we will bequeath to our children and future generations.

"Supporting the implementation of the MSFD in the Black Sea by establishing a regional cetacean monitoring system (D1) and noise monitoring (D11) for achieving GES" - CeNoBS project is co-funded by the European Union through DG Environment of European Commission.

For additional information:
Dimitar Popov ,e-mail: dpopov@greenbalkans.org​


  • Safety first! The pilot gives safety instructions to the crew before each flight - in this case how a rescue boat is handled in case of an emergency landing at sea. Safety first! The pilot gives safety instructions to the crew before each flight - in this case how a rescue boat is handled in case of an emergency landing at sea.
  • The team which was assessing the northwest part of Black Sea – Marian Paiu form Romania, Pavel Goldin from Ukraine, Galina Meshkova from Bulgaria and pilot Joan Antal The team which was assessing the northwest part of Black Sea – Marian Paiu form Romania, Pavel Goldin from Ukraine, Galina Meshkova from Bulgaria and pilot Joan Antal
  • One of the Cessna Skymaster ”Push-Pull” aircrafts of the French company Action Air Environment One of the Cessna Skymaster ”Push-Pull” aircrafts of the French company Action Air Environment
  • Part of the backup team Part of the backup team

  • A picture of the experts, which took part in the aerial survey training A picture of the experts, which took part in the aerial survey training
  • The impressive delta of Danube River from the air The impressive delta of Danube River from the air
  • Part of the obstacles, that the team handled with during the expedition - slight damage to the airplane cooling system. Part of the obstacles, that the team handled with during the expedition - slight damage to the airplane cooling system.
  • Pomorie from the air Pomorie from the air

  • The team, surveying the southeast part of Black Sea – Dimitar Popov, Bulgaria, Costin Timofte, Romania and Arda Tonay, Turkey The team, surveying the southeast part of Black Sea – Dimitar Popov, Bulgaria, Costin Timofte, Romania and Arda Tonay, Turkey
  • Work doesn’t end with landing. The process of validating the data, collected during the flight. Work doesn’t end with landing. The process of validating the data, collected during the flight.
  • * *
  • Both teams together Both teams together

  • Black Sea Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis ponticus), photo: ostin Timofte/Mare Nostrum NGO Black Sea Common dolphin (Delphinus delphis ponticus), photo: ostin Timofte/Mare Nostrum NGO
  • The team in Georgia The team in Georgia
  • * *



Visit Green Balkans in Facebook