Data on cetacean abundance, density, distribution and preferred sites is very scarce due to high cost of vessel/aerial surveys; low developed national scientific capacity in that topic, etc. The project aims attraction of volunteers from target stakeholder groups into the “citizen science” for cetacean research in Bulgarian Black Sea waters. The overall objective of the project is building partnership between volunteers of target groups; state authorities on biodiversity; municipalities and NGO so to fill that large gap of knowledge and building baseline on cetaceans’ distribution. Project actions will be in compliance with ACCOBAMS Working program 2014-2015 – Agreement that Bulgaria is party to and will contribute to EU Habitats Directive reporting. Expected project outcome is to attract at least 10 trained volunteers in the cetacean research. In terms of publicity organizing public awareness related boat survey will be a pilot approach adding value to the project activities.
Summary of project results
Cetacean research in Bulgaria is not well developed. That is the main reason why data on cetaceans’ abundance, distribution and preferred sites along Bulgarian coast is very scarce. Collection of data on the state of cetacean populations in the Black Sea is complex and expensive process (mainly due to high cost of vessel charter) that requires involvement of wide circle of stakeholders related to the sea. Contribution of volunteers could be substantial source for gathering baseline information. The main objective of the project is attraction of volunteers from target stakeholder groups into the “citizen science” for cetacean research in Bulgarian Black Sea waters. As a result from the activities done 12 meetings and presentations with stakeholders were held out of planned 10. Six training sessions for volunteers were held with the participation of 38 volunteers. Field trials were conducted and different methods were used - land-based observation, coastal cetacean exploration, observations in the sea. 96 studies were conducted and the collected information was filled in field blanks. Collaboration with Executive Environment Agency was established on creating module in the National Biodiversity Monitoring System (NBMS) and for entering collected data into the System. A survey of cetaceans was also conducted using a sailing vessel to raise public awareness which was supported by information events (Blue Week on the Black Sea) in three ports - Bourgas, Sozopol and Varna. The information and media campaign included spreading printed leaflet, poster and children's book. During the implementation of the activities а permanent connection with the participants was maintained, thus a capacity for collection of cetacean information was created with which even after the end of the project the cetacean information can be collected. The database on the distribution of Black Sea mammals will help for identifying specific conservation measures in the future.
Summary of bilateral results