BlackCeTrends – Large coverage initiative for acoustic survey of cetaceans in the Black Sea

Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV) ‘s the Turkish partner for “BlackCeTrends”, an international project with five other partners from the Black Sea region: Mare Nostrum NGO (Romania), Green Balkans NGO (Bulgaria), UkrSCES & BioEcoLinks (Ukraine), and Ilia State University (Georgia).

The British acoustic device manufacturer Chelonia Ltd. provided new-generation fully automated passive acoustic monitoring instruments (F-PODs) as permanent free loans. F-PODs are designed specifically to detect and record the high-frequency sounds of dolphins and porpoises. The project will collect acoustic data to understand the presence of cetaceans, especially harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena relicta). The collected data are downloaded periodically, approximately every 1-4 months, and the results are processed by specialized software. This acoustic data will complement the visual observations conducted regularly by the participating teams and serve to protect these animals for the Black Sea ecosystem. The project is expected to last two years. Four or five devices have been provided to each of the partners. Ten F-PODs (01.02.2021) have already been placed in the western part of Black Sea and the rest will be deployed in the near future.

Blue pins – F-POD sites in December 2020, Green stars – planned F-POD sites.

Passive acoustic monitoring has been considered particularly useful for detecting harbour porpoises, a small species of cetacean represented by an endemic endangered subspecies in the Black Sea. Acoustic tools will allow us to learn more about its seasonal occurrence and diurnal patterns of feeding, as well as other types of behaviour. TUDAV has placed its first F-POD at the end of January.