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Association Tritones – Dolphin Research Programme

9th May 18

This year has seen the formation of the Association Tritones, “Voices of the sea” formed by a number of students and teachers. The association is dedicated to conservation efforts, investigation and education.

The year has been very productive, not only with our usual beach clean ups but with the start of a number of other initiatives. Every week the group has had a meeting a breaktimes with talks about marine biology, local events and planning of activities.

The association has taken control of the identification and tracking of the Bottlenose Dolphins that frequent the Benidorm, Altea and Calpe area. We are completing transects of the area on a weekly basis using spotters with binoculars and underwater microphones. So far, we have made contact on three out of four outings and have doubled the database of identified dolphins. This project is being supported by the coast guard boat, the Natural Park of Sierra Helada, the town councils of Benidorm, Albir, Altea and Conselleria de Medio Ambiente (Valencian Environmental Government Agency) and the University of Valencia. In the future we hope to be setting up acoustic tracking devices and will be looking towards the purchase of a drone to track behaviour from above.

In Mundomar we are installing a series of commercial hydrophones and testing some cheaper homemade designs in order to record the vocal communications between the Dolphins. We are training software to identify and class different types of whistle to help the trainers gather more information about the activities of the animals at night or during their breaktimes to help them solve social issues within the group. This is the first such system to be developed in any delfinarium worldwide.

Finally, we are starting before the summer, a project with the Cabo San Antonio Marine reserve, Denia and Javea town councils and the adventure sports company OK aventuras. We will be assessing the rocky shore communities of the wave cut platform and how people walking along the platform to get to the Cova Tallada affect the biological communities. The large numbers of tourists walking, snorkelling or kayaking to the Cova Tallada each summer are beginning to have a negative impact on the marine reserve. The information we will gather is going to assist the town council in their decision on whether to restrict access to the cave each summer.

We will be starting a register for Volunteers and some fund-raising activities in the future as well as a web page, radio spot and articles in local newspapers. We have lots of activities and works to do and so are on the lookout for new volunteers!

Mr Russell Hollingworth

Physics and Marine Biology Teacher, Marine Biologist and PADI Dive Instructor

For more photos please click on the image below: