Mediterranean common dolphin sightings in Israel

The Mediterranean subpopulation of common dolphins Delphinus delphis, is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Redlist.  As recently as 50 years ago, in the Mediterranean waters of Israel, short-beaked common dolphins were thought to be more common than bottlenose dolphins, Tursiops truncatus[1]; a conclusion that was based mainly on stranding records.  Today, common dolphin strandings are very rare in Israel reflecting their regional decline.  However, encouraging news is that over the last few years, there have been repeated sightings of large groups (for the region i.e. 10-80 individuals) of short-beaked common dolphins in Israeli waters.  The recent sightings occurred in the southern part of the region, and some were within the waters of the Gaza strip[2]. Purse-seining in Gaza waters has declined substantially since Israel imposed a naval blockade and common dolphins may have responded to a resultant increase in prey abundance. It is hoped that cooperative research and conservation efforts will one day lead to the recognition of this region as one deserving of special conservation measures for common dolphins (and other cetaceans).


[1] Bodenheimer, F.S. 1960. Animal and man in bible lands. Collection de Travaux de l’Académie Internationale d’Histoire des Sciences, No 10. E.J. Brill, Leiden

[2] see http://seamap.env.duke.edu/dataset/819

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