Mare Nostrum NGO, Leader of CeNoBS European Project:
The largest cetacean aerial survey mission in the Black Sea just ended! The preliminary results to be published.

After 3 weeks and 12,000 km travelled, the most extensive aerial survey activity on cetaceans in the Black Sea basin has come to an end! Preliminary results of the action: 1,750 dolphin and porpoise records. The aerial survey was conducted over the Black Sea waters in Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Turkey and Georgia. The work was carried out within the CeNoBS project, co-funded by the European Union.

Eight specialists from 4 European countries, divided into 2 teams, travelled over 12,000 km in 19 days in two Cessna Skymaster "Push Pull" aircraft of Action Air Environment. A team started from Ukraine and the other one from Georgia, collecting data on cetaceans but not only.. To address the migratory character of these species, they simultaneously flew over the waters of Ukraine, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey and Georgia.

The coordinators of the two teams were our colleagues Marian Paiu and Dimitar Popov / Bulgaria. Their mission was to ensure that this unique activity in the history of the Black Sea Cetacean monitoring is successfully completed.

What was the working method?
In the more than 7,000 km of transect lines surveyed , the Black Sea monitored, the teams collected data on Cetaceans as well as fish, birds (Descriptor 1 Biodiversity) and Marine litter (Descriptor 10), descriptors usedin defining the Good Environment Status (GES), main objective of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.

Sixty linear transects were covered across the perimeters of the five mentioned countries, and an innovative software was used to collect data efficiently: "SAMMOA is a software dedicated to aerial observation missions of marine megafauna developed by Observatoire PELAGIS (La Rochelle - CNRS, France). The software allows real-time visual observations, GPS positioning, and simultaneous audio recording, which greatly helps in the data validation process", said Marian Paiu.

The data collected will be soon analyzed to estimate abundance and density of the encountered species

What preliminary data do we have after 19 days of aerial monitoring?
According to preliminary data, in 19 days and 7,000 km monitored, more than 1,750 dolphin and porpoise records were made. A record can have between 1 and 50 individuals. By species, bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatusponticus)were recorded in only 121 cases, a very small number compared to the other two species: harbour porpoise (Phocoenaphocoenarelicta) and common dolphins (Delphinus delphisponticus). In total, there were 3,898 observations and 41 recorded species and human activities (fishing, transport etc.).

The mission ended in Turkey at ZonguldakÇaycuma Airport, where the two teams reunited to complete the mission.

Mission obstacles in Georgia and Ukraine
The expedition was not easy for any of the members of the two observing teams. Even if things went according to the plan in some regions, in others, several issues complicated the mission implementation: "Researchers' teams were mixed, which helped a lot in overcoming the obstacles on the ground. For example, once we arrived in Ukraine, we found out that we can`t land at the refueling technical airport, which prevented us from continuing our mission. Another example is Georgia, where national procedures required us to have a soldier on board, which affected the maximum authorized safe take-off. Among other things, we have encountered multiple problems with the closed access in military or airport areas. Fortunately, we have managed to overcome all of these problems through the interventions of our team colleagues in other countries and with the help of the national authorities, who have understood the purpose and importance of this project. We can say that it is a historic cooperation effort from both the Black Sea basin countries and those from the outside, involving experts from Italy and France, as well as the support of ACCOBAMS - the Permanent Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, the Mediterranean Sea and the adjacent Atlantic area", both as project partner and co-financier, says Marian Paiu, team coordinator from NGO Mare Nostrum.

The success of this expedition is also due to the opening of the national authorities, who have offered their support to solve all problems on the ground. Embassies have politically facilitated dialogue with the competent institutions in the riparian countries.

Supporting the implementation of the Marine Strategy for the Black Sea by creating a regional cetacean monitoring system (D1) and noise monitoring (D11) for GES implementation "- CeNoBS is a 24-month project co-funded by the European Union. CeNoBS is a project with several European partners, coordinated by the NGO Mare Nostrum / Romania and aims to improve the implementation of the second cycle of the framework directive for two key descriptors:

Descriptor 1 - marine mammals / cetaceans and Descriptor 11 - noise in the Black Sea by achieving greater coherence in determining, assessing and achieving Good Environmental Status (GES).

The proposed activities will complement the lack of background data on the distribution / abundance of cetacean populations and the incidence of by-catches. The main objectives are:

- the assessment of the D1 criteria for cetaceans and the setting of threshold values

- Evaluating and supporting the development of D11 monitoring in the Black Sea

- Strengthening coordination between the Black Sea region by disseminating project activities, outputs and results.


NGO Mare Nostrum is the coordinator of this European project.

The partners involved in the project are Romania and Bulgaria, Ukraine, Monaco and Turkey. Starting with the competent authorities in Romania -  The Romanian Ministry of Waters and Forests and the Bulgarian Black Sea Basin Directorate, together with the institutions responsible for the MSFD scientific implementation, the Institute of Oceanology - Bulgarian Academy of Sciences IO-BAS and the Institute for Marine Research and Development "GrigoreAntipa" - INCDM, as well as NGO Green Balkans (Bulgaria). Other partners involved in the project activities are the Ukrainian Ecological Research Center for the Sea (UkrSECS), the Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), the Karadeniz Technical University (KTU) and the Permanent Secretariat of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans in the Black Sea, Mediterranean and the adjacent Atlantic area (ACCOBAMS). And last but not least, Ilia State University, Georgia, associate partner.

"Supporting the implementation of the MSFD in the Black Sea by establishing a regional cetacean monitoring system (D1) and noise monitoring (D11) for GHG implementation" - CeNoBS is co-funded by the European Union. Project value: 548,285 euros