ATHENS – The deaths of four bottlenose dolphins is being investigated by Athens prosecutors, the mammals found in the northeastern Aegean Sea in May between the islands of Chios and Ikaria, both near Turkey’s coast.
The Archipelagos Institute of Marine Conservation filed a complaint and its Director, Thodoris Tsimpidis, told the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) that, “No environmental crime or killing of a wild animal can go unpunished. A basic principle is to be able to find the culprits.”
The four dead Stenella coeruleoalba dolphins were found in May in the open sea between the islands of Chios and Ikaria by researchers of Archipelagos, said the report, the case only now opened.
“People don’t know the species and when you don’t know, you can’t have a picture of the situation. Bottlenose dolphins are a pelagic (ocean-going) species, so we deny their interaction with coastal fishermen,” Tsimpidis said.
The group said that bottlenose dolphins are often killed by colliding or tangling with large fishing vessels, such as motor trawlers and large swordfish and tuna-catching trawlers from Greece and Turkey that fish together with nets.
The group said such techniques deplete tuna stocks by violating the fixed fishing quotas set by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas and at the same time decimating pelagic species of dolphins.
“We know that, when they want, they turn off their electronic systems, so they can’t be traced. In this way, you don’t have a picture of what is happening in a vast environment, resulting in many violations and illegalities,” Tsibidis said.
It is estimated the total number of dolphins killed is far higher as most are not found and that often when they are killed, a hole is made in their abdomen so that they sink fast to the bottom and do not reach the shore.
More than 200 dolphins live in this marine area, spread out in large sub-groups. “We still don’t know how many animals have been slaughtered,” Tsimpidis said, adding that “implementation of an artificial intelligence program will help us to have more control over the sea”.
He added that, “The legislation is clear; it is now a crime, but the reflexes of the Greek justice system in these cases are still a bit slow,” Tsibidis said. “I want to believe that with time there will be an improvement on this and that we will also acquire …responsibility,” he said.