Results of Black Sea cetaceans field survey, Ukraine

  • June 04, 2019

From 26th of May – 1st of June 2019 Ukrainian Scientific Research Institute of Sea (UkrSES) in frame of EMBLAS-Plus project started field survey on Black Sea cetaceans photoidentification.

The marine coastal area covered was western part of Ukrainian coast from Odesa bay to Danube delta (around 350 km in total). At this stretch the scientists fixed 52 marine cetaceans’ groups. The biggest one which included around 40 bottlenose dolphins was seen near the Danube delta. There were quite a few dolphin babies seen in the groups (main bottlenose dolphins and common dolphins).

The photos of many dolphins were done quite close to make their further photo identification possible. It is worth of mentioning that EMBLAS-Plus has contributed to enlargement of the photo identification database of the UkrSES. After the surveys, researchers will try to identify the dolphins using the existing database or to add new photos there. Why does dolphins’ photoidentification important? It allows to identify the ways of migration and changes in “family status” of each identified dolphin.

Further from 30th of May to 5th of June, the surveys covered Black Sea coast to east from Odesa to Tendra split. On the contrary with the western part of Ukrainian coastal waters of the Black Sea, only 9 groups of cetaceans were registered.

The total length of the researched route (from Danube delta to Tendra split) was 564 km.

In total, during the surveys, minimum 1000 cetaceans of each of three species were registered in Ukrainian coastal waters of the Black Sea. The groups of the Black Sea harbor porpoises (Phocoena phocoena relicta) were met the most often (33 records), but this specie is not the most wide spread, because normally they live alone or in small groups. The number of records of common dolphine Delphinus delphis ponticus) and bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus ponticus) were about the same (15 and 13 records accordingly). However, the common dolphin was the most spread (as calculated 1170 specimen per 13,000 km2 of coastal waters of Ukraine without Crimea). Minimal calculated density of the harbor porpoises and bottlenose dolphins were 930 specimens each.

The collected data will be compared with current aerial studies to identify the total number of the cetaceans and their sanctuaries.

In Ukrainian read here and here