BICREF – Rolex Middle Sea Race Award for BEST CETACEAN SIGHTING REPORTS
The Rolex Middle Sea Race (RMSR) again contributed to the collection of valuable data on dolphin and whale sightings through its 607 nautical miles’ path taken by the 68 sailing boats’ crews. Toward promoting the conservation research and awareness of these vulnerable species in the Mediterranean, BICREF has been making available sighting folders and disposable cameras, sponsored by Fotovision Imaging International, to every participating yacht. BICREF has been running this project, with the collaboration of Royal Malta Yacht Club, since 2000 and appreciates the increasing dedication and interest shown by the participating crews, both local and foreign.
In 2006, the crew of Sailing boat Elusive, with the skipper Arthur Podesta, won the BICREF – RMSR Best Dolphin and Whale Sighting Records. In 2007, this same crew and boat managed to win the BICREF best sightings Award again!
The gathered information goes to supplement the Cetacean Scientific Field Research Project launched by Adriana Vella (Conservation biologist) in 1996 and which is now celebrating its tenth anniversary. This anniversary coincides with the tenth anniversary of the ACCOBAMS, which is Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area. Both Dr. Vella’s Conservation Research Group at the University of Malta and BICREF are partners of the ACCOBAMS community to promote dolphin and whale conservation in the region. Dr. Vella has been running this cetacean field research project with additional assistance from the MMA, AFM and BICREF. Kind sea-users and fishermen also play an important role when ever forwarding detailed information on any sightings out at sea.
Regional and International awareness is successfully achieved through the BICREF – Rolex Middle Sea Race Best Cetacean Sighting Records challenge, where crew members are rewarded for the best detailed information and photos of every dolphin and whale sighting. While some may question the usefulness of cetacean conservation research and management, many other appreciate the need for this, not only as a basic requirement for species listed in local, regional and international legal notices and agreements, but also as a necessary contribution to monitoring the condition of our seas. In fact as dolphins are among the top predators, their health, numbers and seasonal distribution are good indicators of the status and changes in our seas: An important requisite for trying to develop our coasts and marine activities in a sustainable manner.