- 1.Boat surveys aimed at studying short-beaked common dolphins and common bottlenose dolphins in eastern Ionian Sea coastal waters were conducted between 1993 and 2003. During 835 survey days, 24 771 km of total effort was distributed within an area of 480 km2, resulting in 428 common dolphin and 235 bottlenose dolphin sightings.
- 2.Individual photo-identification was performed extensively throughout this study, making it possible to monitor the number of animals seen in the study area each year and their long-term residency patterns.
- 3.Common dolphins declined across the study period, from 2.18 encounters/100 km in 1997 to 0.40 encounters/100 km in 2003. In contrast, there was a relatively stable presence of bottlenose dolphins, some individuals showing high levels of site fidelity and others using the area only occasionally.
- 4.The local decline of common dolphins and the low density of bottlenose dolphins appeared to reflect the general status of these cetacean species in the wider Mediterranean region, where common dolphins were classified as endangered in the IUCN Red List in 2003.
- 5.Based on the available evidence, we infer that the present unfavourable status of common dolphins in eastern Ionian Sea coastal waters is largely a consequence of prey depletion.
Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.