29.01.2021 – A pledge
Short-beaked common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) were out hunting once again this afternoon and our spotter guided the Ribeira Brava to the area. We arrived at the scene, an area located around 2 nautical miles off the coast of Paula do Mar, and were immediately greeted by the dolphins. Their vibrant characteristic flank pattern decorated the water beautifully near the bow of our equally colourful Ribeira Brava and our guests were absolutely thrilled.
Suddenly, in a whoosh of white water, a dolphin leapt high into the air, taking a handful of terrified airborne fish with it. The animals were hunting in small groups so it seemed our welcoming committee had already had a piece of the action and was taking a small break to interact. After some time however, they reverted their attention back to the small schools of Garfish (Belone belone) and began working together to plan their coordinated attacks. Soon a pair or a trio of dolphins begin to encircle and intimidate the fish before another launches an explosive attack, often leaping high above the surface.
Such scenes are not only breathtakingly beautiful to witness, they are also truly humbling considering the plights many marine predators face nowadays. Life has been particularly hard for common dolphins in the last decade. Despite their intelligence and incredible resilience, common dolphins have suffered through the overexploitation of our oceans. The overfishing of their prey in the Mediterranean has caused their numbers to diminish dramatically in this region and many individual dolphins even steal catch from fishing boats in their desperation. Such interactions with fishing boats often result in the violent deaths of these animals, particularly when the boat in question is a supertrawler. Hundreds of dolphins have succumbed as by catch in super trawler nets and their carcasses have begun to litter the beaches of France and the U.K. Promoting stricter regulations by making sustainable choices when it comes to harvesting the ocean is a pledge we should all make to our oceans. If we aren’t going to do it for the sake of our own survival, let’s at least do it for the dolphins.
By Paula Thake
Sightings of the day
14:30 Short-beaked common dolphins