COMMON DOLPHINS IN THE PORT OF KOPER

Last week Morigenos received a call about two dolphins in the Port of Koper. With the support of the Maritime Administration of Slovenia and the Port of Koper, who authorized us to enter the port, we discovered that the animals in question were two common dolphins, a mother and a calf. The common dolphin (Delphinus delphis) is quite a rare species in our waters. Two years ago, we published a research review on the occurrence of this species in the northern Adriatic Sea. This is the fourth documented case of this species in Slovenia and the fifth in the Gulf of Trieste. We last documented it in this area ten years ago. The Gulf of Trieste is regularly inhabited by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus), which are the main topic of our long-term research.

According to our preliminary assessment, the animals appear in good body condition, although this is generally difficult to determine reliably and objectively. Of course, we are currently not able to determine their overall health status. In the following days, we will attempt to find out more by carefully examining all of the photographs and video footage we collected. Photographs of the dorsal fin will help us determine if the female had previously been observed in other parts of the Mediterranean Sea.

The presence of common dolphins in a port can be a cause for concern, but not necessarily. For now, we do not know why the animals decided to spend time in a port, so it is not sensible to try to “chase” them out. Such attempts are often unsuccessful anyway. If anything is wrong with them (or one of them), then such attempts can only make it worse, while it is perfectly conceivable that they merely chose the port as a temporary refuge or a source of prey. Despite the often-held perception, dolphins are perfectly capable of navigating along the shore, inside bays and even ports, which they tend to leave on their own. The dolphins were no longer there on Friday.

If the animals make further appearances in the port or other parts of the Gulf of Trieste, we call upon boat operators to be watchful and reduce speed whenever possible and safe to do so. We also call upon anyone that may see them, to report sightings (inside or outside of ports) to Morigenos at +386 31 77 10 77. We are grateful to workers in the Port of Koper and the Maritime Administration of Slovenia for notifying us about their sightings and for the logistical support.