Oceanomare Delphis – Curriculum Vitae
Oceanomare Delphis Onlus (ODO) is a non-profit organization dedicated to cetacean research, monitoring, and conservation in the Mediterranean Sea.
Sharing visions, actions, and professionals involved, Oceanomare and Delphis MDC, two Italian associations that have been doing research and conservation work since 1999, decided in 2010 to join forces and create a new, larger organization. The result was Oceanomare Delphis Onlus (ODO), which works to research and conserve marine biodiversity by implementing non-invasive monitoring and research activities, promoting conservation and education programs, and raising public awareness about cetaceans and the marine environment.
Current and past research areas include:
- Pontine-Campanian archipelagos (islands of Ischia, Procida, Capri, Ventotene and Ponza)
- The coastline of Tuscany and all the islands of its archipelago
- Ostia – Fiumicino-Torvaianica (Rome)
- Waters off Brindisi (BR)
- Adriatic coast of Montenegro
The ODO research group collects data on cetacean behavioral ecology and acoustics. Currently available databases contain information on their distribution, movements in the environment, group size and composition, behaviors, and acoustic data.
ODO publishes its findings in national and international scientific journals, conference papers, and specialized periodicals; and delivers technical and scientific reports commissioned by international associations such as Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, Oceancare, Human Society International, and Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Since 1991, ODO has been organizing and supporting the Ischia Dolphin Project (field research program) by involving numerous students and volunteers each year who participate in research field activities aboard the laboratory ship and thus contribute to the knowledge of the distribution and ecology of these animals.
Through the years, the data collected by our study contributed to the creation of the Marine Protected Area “Regno di Nettuno” on the islands of Ischia, Procida, and Vivara. ODO succeeded in including into the MPA perimeter the coastal part of the submarine Canyon of Cuma. The IUCN had previously defined this region as critical habitat for the common dolphin, Delphinus delphis, listed as endangered in the Mediterranean sea.
Nell’ottobre 2016, durante il primo “Important Marine Mammals Areas (IMMAs) Regional Workshop” per il Mediterraneo organizzato dalla Task Force dell’ IUCN, ODO ha candidato le acque di Ischia e Ventotene e gli arcipelaghi Campano e Pontino come IMMAs . Dopo un anno, nell’ottobre 2017, entrambe le aree sono state ufficialmente riconosciute come IMMAs.
From 2002 to 2008, ODO organized "Dolphin Day" in Ischia, a day dedicated to cetaceans and environmental awareness for schools.
In 2006, the Villa Arbusto Museum in Lacco Ameno inaugurated the "Cetacean Section," whose exhibit is provided for by the Association. The Cetacean Section offers a permanent display of the animals that inhabit Ischia's waters, including a skeleton of a juvenile of a common dolphin stranded on Ischia in November 2003 and found by the Association's volunteers.
From 2010 to 2020, ODO organized and supported Delfini Capitolini (Roman Dolphins Project), a monitoring program focused on bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the waters of the Tiber estuary in Italy. The data collected on the species were analyzed to create a density map; the map was then submitted to the European Commission to support evidence of a higher density area for Annex II species to establish Natura 2000 sites for marine species and habitats (Malta, September 27-29, 2016). The Tiber estuary area was also designated by ODO as an AOI (Area of Interest) during the first Regional IMMAs Workshop for the Mediterranean organized by the IUCN Task Force.
In 2011, ODO, in collaboration with the Dip.Te.Ris. of the University of Genoa, and Menkab, organized in Ischia the 1st International Workshop on "Ecology, Behavior, and Conservation of Sperm Whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the Mediterranean".
From 2012 to 2016, on behalf of the Department of Environmental Biology at La Sapienza University of Rome, ODO conducted monitoring activities as part of the Costa Concordia wreck removal program at Giglio Island. ODO was responsible for cetacean monitoring and acoustic impact assessment, thanks to its qualified and JNCC-certified staff and equipment for PAM (Passive Acoustic Monitoring) and MMO (Marine Mammal Observer) activities.
From January to September 2014, ODO was contracted by CNR ISMAr in Ancona to participate in the cetacean and noise impact monitoring program during the construction of the ENI Offshore Fauzia and Elettra platforms in the Adriatic Sea.
In 2015, ODO, in collaboration with CIBRA (Interdisciplinary Center for Bioacoustics and Environmental Research), developed a Marine Mammal Monitoring and Mitigation Plan for the project "3D Seismic in the Southern Adriatic Sea Northern Petroleum Ltd permits F.R39.NP and F.R40.NP."
Since 2016, Oceanomare Delphis has been a partner in ACCOBAMS, the Agreement for the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the contiguous Atlantic area.
In 2016, ODO, in collaboration with OceanCare and BICREF, promoted and organized the 1st International Workshop on "Conservation and research networking on short-beaked common dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea" in Ischia.
In 2016, ODO, in collaboration with CIBRA, developed a Marine Mammal Monitoring and Mitigation Plan (MMMMP)for the project "2D Seismic in the Central and Southern Adriatic Sea, Spectrum Geo Ltd authorizations d 1 B.P-.SP and d 1 F.P-.SP."
In January-March 2018, ODO in collaboration with CIBRA, conducted the ante operam phase of the MMMMP in the waters off Brindisi; in April 2018, the final report was submitted to the Italian Ministry of Environment.
In August 2018, ODO and CIBRA were commissioned by Amec Foster Wheeler and Energean Montenegro Limited DSD to develop a Marine Mammal Monitoring Plan ante and post operam for the 3D seismic exploration in the Montenegrin Adriatic coast (Energean Limited offshore blocks Nos. 26, 30)."
In August-September 2018, ODO and CIBRA performed the ante operam phase related to cetacean monitoring in Bar waters (Montenegro, offshore blocks Nos. 26, 30).
In 2017 and 2018, ODO collaborated with ExpeditionMed as cetacean experts during their plastic monitoring campaigns in the Mediterranean Sea. ODO's experts trained ExpeditionMed's crew to identify the Mediterranean species and the collection of baseline data during whale and dolphin sightings.
In 2018 and 2019, to assess the conservation status of the bottlenose dolphin in the Mediterranean Sea, ODO participated in the TURSIOMED project - coordinated by the Genoa Aquarium Foundation and supported by ACCOBAMS. ODO sent all data (routes, sighting coordinates, photographic material for photo-id analysis) collected by Delfini Capitolini (2015-2016) and Ischia Dolphin Project (2004-2016) on the Intercet platform (www.intercet.it), available to the entire international scientific community.
In August-September 2019, ODO and CIBRA carried out the post operam phase related to cetacean monitoring in Bar waters (Montenegro, offshore blocks No. 26, 30).
In September 2019, ODO and CIBRA, under the agreement signed with ACCOBAMS, organized a new training course to certify as Marine Mammal Observers and operators of Passive Acoustic Monitoring systems.
In 2020, to assess the conservation status of Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) and sperm whale in the Mediterranean Sea, ODO participated in the INTERMED project - coordinated by the Acquario di Genova Foundation and supported by ACCOBAMS. ODO uploaded all data (updating sighting routes and coordinates to 2019 and adding selected photo-id images on target species from 2004 to 2019) collected by the Ischia Dolphin Project to the Intercet platform (www.intercet.it), available to the entire international scientific community.
In 2021-2022, ODO participated with the entire dataset in ABIOMMED, an EU research project funded under DG EN9/M6FD 2020 CALL, with the primary objective to support the relevant authorities in the Mediterranean region as well as UNEP/MAP for regional (sub)cooperation in preparing for the next 6-year cycle of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive implementation.
In 2022, ODO conducted acoustic and visual monitoring of marine mammals in the waters of the Campania, Calabria, and Sicily regions for the Tyrrhenian Link" East Lot project supported by Shelter and Next Geosolutions.
Ongoing projects (monitoring, research and conservation)
"Research on cetacean populations of the submarine canyon of Cuma (Tyrrhenian Sea)." - supported by Oceanomare Delphis Onlus and Riccardo Domenici Association. The work provides data on the presence and distribution of the seven species of cetaceans inhabiting the area (striped dolphins, common dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, pilot whales, sperm whales, and fin whales) through sighting and acoustic data-gathering activities. The research can count on the support of CIBRA (University of Pavia).
"Winter monitoring of cetaceans in the MPAs Regno di Nettuno and Isole di Ventotene e S. Stefano" - supported by the MPAs. The project concretizes the realization of a joint activity between the two MPAs that, in addition to implementing what was established with the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for Twinning between the MPA "Regno di Nettuno" and the MPA/RNS "Isole di Ventotene e Santo Stefano," is aimed at the creation of a joint database of environmental data necessary to implement actions to improve the management of the MPAs involved.
"Research and conservation of the common dolphin, an endangered species in the Mediterranean Sea" - supported by Oceanomare Delphis Onlus, Oceancare and the Riccardo Domenici Association. Through this work, it was possible to demonstrate the high level of residency of common dolphins in the waters of Ischia, which were photo-identified and sighted during the years of research. In addition, the study focused on the distribution and use of habitat through the preparation of maps showing the concentration of dolphins in the Cuma Canyon area, located on the northwestern coast of the island of Ischia.
"Acoustic of sperm whales in the south-central Tyrrhenian Sea." - supported by Oceanomare Delphis Onlus and Riccardo Domenici Association. The study aims to study the acoustic repertoire of the species. The research can count on the support of CIBRA (University of Pavia).
"Sperm whale movements in the Mediterranean." - The project involves several institutes and associations (Tursiops Association, Delfini del Ponente, Filicudi Wildlife Conservation, Jonian Dolphin Project, Menkab, Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, Sea Me Sardinia, Tethys Research Institute) to understand, through photo-identification, the movements of sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea.
2002 - 2010: "Monitoring driftnetting in the Mediterranean Sea", supported by HIS - Humane Society United States, RSPCA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals UK, WDCS - Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society UK. Through direct observations at sea and in ports, it was possible to document illegal fishing activity and assess its impact on the cetacean population. The data collected were used by HIS, RSPCA, and WDCS to report the alarming situation in Italy to the European Parliament.
2011: “GIONHA (Governance and Integrated Observation of marine Natural Habitat)”. The project sought to raise awareness of the need to safeguard marine habitats and cultivate their resources. It arose from the cooperation of the regions bordering the Tyrrhenian Sea; it involved ARPAT, Office de Environnement de la Corse, Regione Liguria, Regione Autonoma della Sardegna, and Provincia di Livorno. The project aimed to increase current knowledge by assessing the status and trend of cetacean populations in the Tuscany Region; the impact of anthropogenic activities (professional fishing, commercial and recreational boating) on these populations; and the status of the habitat of interest, particularly about the integrity of the seabed and the presence of anthropogenic litter.
2014: "Sighting of cetaceans during the construction of the offshore platforms Fauzia and Elettra and related sealine". The project was conducted at the request of CNR-ISMAr in Ancona to monitor underwater noise and marine mammals' presence. Passive Acoustic Monitoring (PAM) and visual monitoring were conducted continuously by our Marine Mammal Observers (MMOs). In case of acoustic sighting or detection, real-time mitigation measures were taken to prevent the potential negative impact caused by noise from construction activities on cetacean species identified within a 1-mile radius of the platform.
2012-2016: "Monitoring the acoustic impact on cetaceans during the removal of the Costa Concordia wreck (Giglio Island)" - supported by the Titan-Micoperi Italian-American consortium and the University of Rome "La Sapienza," the project evaluated the noise levels produced by the removal of the wreck to verify the potential impact on cetaceans in the area. The data collected were used to establish a safety zone around the ship to avoid the harmful effect of noise on the behavior and acoustic apparatus of these animals. The monitoring activity was carried out daily. The project relied on the scientific supervision of Prof. Massimo Azzali.
2016-2018: Marine mammal monitoring and mitigation for 3D seismic in the southern Adriatic Sea. (Northern Petroleum Ltd permits F.R39.NP and F.R40.NP)" - supported by Northern Petroleum. The project involved visual and acoustic monitoring of marine mammals in the waters off Brindisi; the studied area lies in the vicinity of the EBSAs (Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas) of the South Adriatic Ionian Channel. Acoustic monitoring used a bottom recorder and a towed dipole acoustic array. The main objectives of the project were: to acquire data on the presence and distribution of marine mammals in the 3D seismic area; to document the effects of seismicity on marine mammals; and to ensure that disturbance to marine mammal species is minimized through real-time mitigation.
2010-2020: "Bottlenose dolphin monitoring within the Fiumicino-Torvaianica marine area (Secche di Tor Paterno, Rome)" - supported by Oceanomare Delphis Onlus, Oceancare and Unicredit Fondo Etico. Available data on marine mammals inhabiting the Fiumicino-Torvaianica area, and the Tor Paterno Shoals, are fragmentary and limited to the occasional sighting of bottlenose dolphins. This species, whose presence is often recorded in an area characterized by a marine morphology of unique interest, carries out its life cycle mainly in the shoreline environment, which is mostly affected by alterations and degradation caused by man. This species is protected by the Bern, Barcelona, and Washington Conventions, the European Habitats Directive, and Italian Law No. 157/92 making it the only one - among Tor Paterno's protected species - to enjoy a significantly high level of conservation commitment.
2018: "Marine mammal monitoring ( ante and post operam) for 3D seismic exploration in the Montenegrin Adriatic coast (Energean Limited offshore blocks Nos. 26, 30)." - supported by Energean. The project involved visual and acoustic monitoring of marine mammals in the waters of Bar on the Montenegrin Adriatic coast. Acoustic monitoring was carried out with a dipole towed acoustic array. The main objectives of the project were: to produce a map of the presence and distribution of visual and acoustic detections along transects, with density data referenced to the number of sightings/km; to provide, when possible, a description of animal behavior; and to estimate the size of the groups sighted.
2022: "Marine mammal monitoring for the East Lot of the "Tyrrhenian Link" (waters of Campania, Calabria, and Sicily)" - supported by Next Geosolutions and Shelter. The project involves visual and acoustic monitoring of marine mammals. Acoustic monitoring is carried out with a static hydrophone. The main objectives of the project were to acquire data on the presence and distribution of marine mammals and pelagic fauna in the area.