We are very proud working again with MOm/ Hellenic Society for the Study and Protection of the Monk Seal with the goal to support the first systematic aerial survey for cetaceans in the Cyclades archipelagos, coupled with a citizen science project (cetaceans’ sightings data collection) aiming to engage energetically the local community on the conservation of these charismatic marine mammals.
There is high concern for the conservation status and survival of many cetacean populations living in Greek waters. Knowledge of the presence of critical habitats in the Cyclades Archipelagos of populations of endangered and vulnerable Mediterranean cetaceans is inadequate to support proposals for place-based conservation measures.
Our goal is the advancement of knowledge on presence and distribution of cetaceans in the Cyclades archipelagos (ecology – behaviour) and the energetic engagement of the local community in the conservation effort via the citizen science project. More specifically we aim to:
1.Provide baseline data on cetacean presence and distribution in the whole Cyclades archipelagos, and identify hotspots of occurrence that can be accorded priority for intensive research and management, and areas where conflicts with fisheries or other human activities are particularly acute.
2. Engage as many locals as possible in a citizen science project of cetacean sightings data collection that will dynamically focus our field effort in specific hotspots of occurrence. At the same time, this engagement will also inform and inspire more islanders of the archipelagos to energetically participate in future initiatives of marine (particularly cetacean) conservation in the area. See the call!
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Photo credits: Panos Dendrinos/MOm
COVID-19 UPDATE: The majority of actions undertaken to date relate to the Citizens Science part of the project, while only preparatory actions have been undertaken regarding Field work which will be implemented once there are sufficient baseline data to inform and focus the fieldwork. Since the initial stages of the covid-19 pandemics spread to Greece in late February, most of face-to-face interactions with marine professionals and leisure users decreased and since the implementation of quarantine measures, they have been abruptly halted. Plans for the next months within 2020 include more visits to islands (Naxos, Amorgos, Ios, Syros, Andros, Santorini), online interaction and promotion of data collection, expansion of an already existing smartphone application in order to include the reporting of cetacean sightings in Greece and aerial surveys.