In July 2022, striped dolphins Stenella coeruleoalba living in the Gulf of Corinth, Greece, have been classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. In 2020, another cetacean population that shares the same habitat with striped dolphins—the common dolphin Delphinus delphis—had been classified as Critically Endangered. Why are these wonderful animals exposed to such high risks, to the point of being considered Endangered an even Critically Endangered?

That is because the Gulf of Corinth is a semi-enclosed basin of about 3000 km2, where striped and common dolphins are virtually isolated from conspecifics (i.e. animals of the same species) that live in other parts of the Mediterranean Sea. Isolation makes these dolphins especially vulnerable to any threat or incident that may occur within the Gulf, an area that is already exposed to considerable human impacts.

OceanCare supported dolphin research in the Gulf of Corinth between 2009 and 2017, resulting in robust scientific information that represents the backbone of recent Red List assessments. Researchers found that common dolphin numbers are very low: only between 16 and 32 animals are estimated to survive in the Gulf. With so few animals, the risk of population decline and geographic eradication is extremely high. Conversely, striped dolphins are still relatively numerous (estimate: about 1300 animals), but the effects of fishing, industrial pollution and noise raise concern over their fate.

Science-based Red List assessments of dolphin status, such as these, can ultimately be seen as a call for action. They ring an alarm for those who want to listen. And the alarm says: these dolphin populations may not survive human pressure, unless we resolve to reduce such pressure and protect their habitat. Recently, the Gulf of Corinth was included in the Natura 2000 network as a “Site of Community Importance”, but will that lead to timely and effective conservation action, or is that going to be just another case of marine conservation on paper?

 

For more information:

Striped dolphin: Endangered

Bearzi G., Bonizzoni S., Santostasi N.L. 2022. Stenella coeruleoalba (Gulf of Corinth subpopulation). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2022: e.T210188066A210188619. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/210188066/210188619

Common dolphin: Critically Endangered

Bearzi G., Bonizzoni S., Santostasi N.L. 2020. Delphinus delphis (Gulf of Corinth subpopulation). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2020: e.T156206333A194321818. https://www.iucnredlist.org/species/156206333/194321818

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We, OceanCare (Club seat: Switzerland), process personal data for the operation of this website only to the extent technically necessary. All details in our privacy policy.