IMMRAC 2007 News    

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Photographed by Aviad Scheinin

Fruitful Cooperation between IMMRAC and Israel Nature & National Parks Protection Authority (INNPPA)

IMMRAC and INNPPA' northern region commenced joint surveys exploring cetacean population in northern Israel

On Tuesday morning, November 27th 2007, a common bottlenose dolphin was spotted 3 km off the Ahziv shoreline.

Israel Nature & National Parks Protection Authority's boat took off in the morning, opperated by ranger Eyal Miller in company with IMMRAC researchers Aviad Scheinin and Mia Elasar on a cetacean survey mission. Soon enough, an adult common bottlenose dolphin was spotted 3 km off the Ahziv shoreline. The dolphin seemed quite healthy, although somewhat skinny, busily feasting on a trawler's discard. This is not the first time that IMMRAC researchers spot cetaceans off our country's northern coasts, yet we heartily congratulate the new dolphin project in the north, born following Mia's appeal to the very responsive Eyal.

So far IMMRAC enjoyed an efficient and supporting cooperation with INNPPA that included:

1.       Reports of dolphin and whale sightings and strandings along the Israeli coast line delivered by INNPPA rangers to IMMRAC staff.

2.       INNPPA boats were taken out to help IMMRAC staff search for sighted cetaceans.

3.       Help with removal and transport of carcasses and live strandings from the coast to the necropsy and salvage facilities, respectively.

Regular northern coast surveys will now take place on a monthly basis in order to document members of cetacean populations in the north in more detail, thus offering a broader picture of coastal populations in Israel.

The cooperation is part of INNPPA's attempts to push the western boundary of the Ahziv Marine Protected Area from its current 2 km offshore out to the territorial water limit.


Photographed by Aviad Scheinin


November, 11th  –

A Dolphin Carcass at the Cliff Beach, Tel-Aviv.

This morning at the Cliff Beach in Tel-Aviv, lifeguard Yossi Salman reported on a dolphin carcass via Tel-Aviv municipality's sanitation department. We identified the carcass as a female bottlenose dolphin in an advanced state of decomposition. The bloated carcass was likely beached by the storm at sea. This is the 14th cetacean's carcass beached on the Israeli coasts this year. On average, 15 cetaceans per year are stranded in Israel.

The female dolphin measured 245 cm, with an unidentified dorsal fin, and partial necropsy that took place on site found that it was not pregnant. Samples of muscle, liver, blubber, skin and a few teeth were taken. The condition of the carcass prevented determination of possible anthropogenic intervention, however, the finding of a stomach full of fish hints at trawler by-catch as a cause of death. The stomach, skull and flippers were removed and temporarily stored are at the Beit Dagan freezer.


Thanks to IMMRAC chairman Aviad Scheinin for arriving at the spot, practicing biopsy and the findings!


October, 31st  –

Binoculars Donated to IMMRAC

IMMRAC volunteer Naomi Birenbach's family recently deposited a donation into IMMRAC's bank account, earmarked to the purchase of field binoculars.

IMMRAC members thank Naomi and her family for their donation and support of dolphin research, and extend their deepest condolences to her family on the recent passing of Naomi's grandmother.



October, 29th  –

A Dolphin Carcass in Hadera.

A dolphin's carcass was found this morning, 300 meters north of Hadera Power Station. The male dolphin had no injury signs. The skin on it's lower part was peeled off and the carcass was quite inflated.

One of the fishermen identified the dolphin as one frequently sighted in the past in the Hadera region – the identification based on its relatively dark pigmentation. The fisherman also told us that that dolphin used to swim alone.

IMMRAC volunteer Yuli Sharir, with the help of fishermen removed the skull and later on, Eliana Ratner and IMMRAC's president Dr. Dani Kerem removed the dolphin's stomach and took it with the skull to the University of Haifa for further study.


Many thanks to Menashe Mantin and Rami Tsadok - the reporter from Kibbutz Sdot-Yam!

Photographed by Hertzi Shapira

September, 23rd  –

X-ray and MRI scan for dolphins in Rambam Health Care Campus in Haifa

On September 23rd at 9pm a series of x-rays were run on a common bottlenose dolphin calf measuring 140cm and a juvenile striped dolphin measuring 205cm.

The common bottlenose dolphin stranded at Sironit beach on March 2006 in a very fresh condition and its carcass was transferred by Omri Ben-Eliahu for conservation for future casting. The striped dolphin stranded at Ma'ayan Zvi on September 2006. Both dolphins were kept frozen at -180C since the stranding and transferred to 40C two days prior to the imaging. Apart from gross autopsy, the x-rays were made in order to verify the absence of metal objects that may interfere with the MRI equipment. The calf did undergo an MRI scan but the striped dolphin proved too big for the MRI system and could not be scanned.


The MRI staff at the Rambam Health Care Campus volunteered to perform the scan during after-hours, on their own free time. The imaging will be interpreted in the next few days by IMMRAC president Dr Dani Kerem, IMMRAC's veterinarians Drs Shlomi Ami'el & Alon Levy and Head of Rambam hospital's MRI institute, Dr Dorit Goldsher.

IMMRAC participants: Dr. Dani Kerem, Nir Edry, Eliana Retner.

Special thank to Nir Edry for the big help, to Yoav Ratner and the crew of the Gan Ha'em Zoo for housing the bodies in their cooler over the weekend and to the Rambam hospital crew for their cooperation.

Photographed by Aviad Scheinin

August, 29th -

Another Successful Dolphin Survey

This summer keeps surprising, with the highest percentage of dolphin sightings ever.

We went out on a yacht contributed by Sea-Gal Yacht Club. About an hour after going out, we spotted common bottlenose dolphins following trawler "Iris". Apropos, upon inquiry, Nitai the skipper told me on the radio that they haven't seen a dolphin in two weeks! Three dolphins: two adults and a juvenile were spotted. During the observation we noticed a copulation of the two adults. After half an hour, the dolphins switched to follow the trawler "Bilu" for 15 more minutes and then left.


Thanks to Sea-Gal Yacht club for their dolphins' research support. Thanks to the wonderful crew: Meital, Yair, Ofer, Liat, Shirley, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development representatives and Haaretz newspaper's crew.





Photographed by Aviad Scheinin

August, 18th  –

Successful Dolphin Survey

With mixed feelings, I went out on a dolphin survey with Sea-Gal Yacht Club. Sea was not expected to be smooth, but I didn't want to disappoint yacht club's members who were registered for this sail, and I therefore didn't cancel it. After a whole week at sea, as part of my reserve duty, it was not an easy decision. Indeed, weather forecast turned to be accurate and wind came up early. Desperately, we searched for a trawler and to our joy, just as sea state crossed from 3 to 4, we saw a trawler in the horizon. We sailed towards what turned out to be "Magrek", the Ashdodian trawler, which was 4 miles off Wingate Institute's shoreline. Happily, we spotted two common bottlenose dolphins nearby, which were hectically foraging by the trawler's net and paid no attention to us. After observing the dolphins for an hour, we returned to shore


Thanks to Sea-Gal Yacht Club for its Israeli dolphins research support, to Yaron Chitovich from Wisemobility, who continues to accompany the real-time data collection system, which was developed for us, and to Meital who, as always, spotted the dolphins first..




Photographed by Aviad Scheinin


July, 21st –

Successful Dolphin Survey

We went out on a dolphin survey, as part of the Sea-Gal Yacht Club's sailing program. After about 75 minutes at sea, we spotted 5 common bottlenose dolphins close to the trawler "Nitsan". To our delight, the dolphins soon left the trawler and switched into a resting mode. The excellent sea conditions allowed us to appreciate the fluidity of dolphin group dynamics. We started with 4 adults and one juvenile dolphin. Later on, the group split into 3 dolphins and a couple. One of the triplet's members was identified as Dani, a female which is one of our most recaptured dolphins, first identified on 2002. About 20 minutes after the split, the 5 dolphins reunited, and 20 minutes later 2 mother-calf pairs joined the group, which soon split again into two subgroups of 6 and 3. At that stage, we had to leave due to the constraints of the yacht's schedule. Several animals had their ribs clearly showing as can be seen in the attached pictures. The encounter took place 4 miles south of Netanya.

 The Ynet article (in Hebrew…) can be read here.

 Thanks to Sea-Gal Yacht Club for its dolphins research support, to Daphna Feingold who came back after a relatively long exile and videotaped the survey, and to Yaron Chaitovich from Wisemobility, who continues to accompany and support the real-time data collection system that helped develope for us.

TAU Sport Club Nature Class's Children Adopted a Dolphin

In the clubhouse of Tel-Aviv University (TAU) Sport Club's summer camp, the nature-class pupils: Daniel, May, Yo'av, Nitsan, Nadav, Dor, Natasha, Li'or, Benjamin, Amit, Ido, Nir, and Eliana decided to adopt a dolphin. This was encouraged by the summer camp's manager Alon Afek and the class's teacher Michael.

 During three weeks the summer camp's pupils had fun, studied in a manner that stresses nature and ecology problems, and of course about dolphins' life along the Israeli coast. The nature class's pupils also participated in hands-on activity for the sake of Israeli dolphins. Firstly they called their group DORP (Dolphin Rescue from Plastic). In addition, in their nature field trip from the river to the sea, they cleaned TAU botanic gardens and Sidni Ali Beach by collecting remains of plastic bags and plastic bottles. In TAU premises, the nature kids recycled plastic bottles, and brought dolphins life to the awareness of the rest of the summer camp children by the use of posters, pictures and prize-awarding quizzes.

 The TAU sport club contributed the adoption fees to IMMRAC for research and conservation of our wild dolphins.

 IMMRAC gave the nature kids an ornate adoption certificate, and an enlarged photograph of the dolphin they have adopted.

 Way to go nature kids!!!


July, 5th 2007 –

Interesting Field Reports

At 9:15 am the trawler "Mazal-Tov"'s crew was fishing 3 miles off Ashdod shoreline, when they suddenly spotted an estimated 14 meter long Sperm Whale, which swam by the ship. The net that was lifted by the trawler contained large octopus, which are a common item in the whale's natural diet. This is another observation that confirms the existence of whales of this species in our region. We thank Grandpa Johny and the crew for their real-time report!

 During the afternoon hours IMMRAC's chairman Aviad Scheinin reported on a group of 4 Rough-toothed dolphins sighted 40 miles south of Cyprus.


June, 21st 2007 – Dolphins inside Ashdod Port

In the morning we got a report of two dolphins spotted inside Ashdod Port. IMMRAC volunteer Aharon Koltonov arrived at the scene and sailed out with IMMRAC's-darling fisherman Doron Cohen.  Nearby the Port's fish cage farm, the carcass of a male bottlenose dolphin calf was discovered. It was a newborn calf measuring 88 cm. The carcass was in initial state of decay with peeled skin. Another dolphin, probably its mother, was swimming around the calf. After 1.5 hours, I arrived at the scene in order to try to ID the mother, but unfortunately it already left the area. After searching for another hour inside the port, I took some skin samples from the calf's carcass and left the site. Aharon saw the live dolphin a few more times from the wharf later on that day, after which it disappeared completely.

Aviad Scheinin, IMMRAC Chairman

Photographed by Aviad Scheinin


June, 10th 2007 – Successful Dolphin Survey

In the morning we went out on a dolphin survey, as part of Dr. Oz Goffman's Sea-Man-Dolphin Interelation course at the University of Haifa 's

Department of Maritime Civilizations. We went out from Herzliya Marina with a calm sea. In the horizon we spotted the trawler "Gal-Oz", about 5 miles off the shoreline. We sailed towards the trawler while scanning the sea. At 8:20 we spotted a couple of adult bottlenose dolphins that were following the trawler and busy diving around its net. The sighting was 5 miles west of Wingate Institute. After tracking the dolphins for an hour, we spotted some jumps at the distance and to our joy we identified another couple of dolphins – a very jumpy female with its calf. They showed real interest in our yacht, contrary to the first couple which paid no attention to it at all. We continued tracking the dolphins until the trawler pulled in its net. It was interesting to observe that the two couples followed the trawler, but only one couple dived at a time, while the other stayed near the surface. After two hours we left the dolphins. Throughout the sighting we were escorted by a big flock of storm petrels, the over-the-sea gliding wizards.

Big thanks to the Sea-Gal Yacht Club that contributed the yacht for the course sail, and to its support of Israeli dolphin research! Thanks to the course students that participated the sail and to IMMRAC crew: Adi, Denise, Oz and Aviad

Photographed by Aviad Scheinin

April, 28th 2007 – Dolphin sightings from Eilat to Akko

At 8:00 a single dolphin was spotted off the northern shore in Eilat. It's probably the same young Indian Ocean bottlenose dolphin individual that was wandering around ub the same area a few weeks ago. The dolphin, nicknamed "Marco", was found to be in good shape and was photographed by the Dolphin Reef's team. At the scene were IMMRAC volunteers Sharon Geula and Tali Tevlin and the Israel Nature and Parks Authority staff, Noam Meshi and Dr. Dudu Zakai.

At the same time, 3 dolphins were sighted in Akko by IMMRAC volunteer, Motti Mendelson, between the "Horse Beach" and "Island of Flies ".

At 9:30, 3 dolphins were encountered during a survey held by IMMRAC chairman Aviad Scheinin aboard a Sea-Gal sailing school's yacht. One of the three was "Dani", a female followed since 2002. The dolphins swam by a trawler that was in the area.

At 10:15, 2 dolphins were spotted 1.5 miles west of Michmoret by Amos Noyman.

Half an hour later, a young dolphin was spotted while busily hunting, a mile west of Ashkelon National Park, by IMMRAC general manager Dr. Oz Goffman. All dolphins sighted along the Med coastline were common bottlenose dolphins

This is a Hebrew article published in Walla web site.

Many thanks to all the reporters! Way to go!



February, 28th 2007 – Dolphin Survey from Michmoret

A dolphin survey took place on Wednesday, February 28th on board an Israel Nature and Parks Authority boat from Michmoret. While preparing for departure, we were reported by Dr. Oz Goffman, IMMRAC general manager, that a dolphin was spotted in the morning around the shoreline of Giv'at Olga eating from fishing nets while they were raised. After a few minutes, several oarsmen who just returned from the sea, reported seeing a dolphin hanging around a few meters out of the entrance of Michmoret anchorage. And indeed, as we departed, we saw the dolphin very close to shore, at a bottom depth of 4 meters. This was a first ever occurrence in our surveys that a dolphin waits for us in the entrance, at the start of a survey. After a short tracking, we realized that it was the same dolphin that hung around Ashdod Port and shoreline a week before. The dolphin took 90 sec dives near the shoreline, heading south. After half an hour we left the dolphin in order to continue scanning the area. Unfortunately, we didn't spot any other dolphins.

Surprisingly, we received another report in Tapuz's fishing forum about a dolphin spotted off Herzliyya Marina's breakwater at 06:30, the same day. Thanks to shlomtzi1 the reporter from the fishing forum, and to Nir Hadar, IMMRAC's volunteer for their reports.


Thanks to Ruthi Yahel and Dothan Ohayon from Israel Nature and Parks Authority and to the crew: Adi, Aya, Jonathan and Aviad.


Photographed by Dr. Oz Goffman

February, 18th 2007 – Fin Whale in Haifa.

On Thursday, February 15th, we received a few messages about a whale's carcass that was found floating by one of the Haifa Port's piers.

Due to high winds, it became obvious that if the carcass won't be tied to the pier, it would be swept away from the port and will then be very hard to deal with. We collected ropes from volunteers on the piers and with the aid of the Haifa Marine Police we tried to rope the carcass from the bow of the Marine Police boat. After 5 failed maneuver trials in stormy sea, together with the shift commander Mickey Almakayes, who also aided in the capture of a wounded pelican in the Kishon harbor two months ago, and an Argentinean volunteer – we decided to tie the whale's carcass by its flipper. Mickey approached with the ship's prow, we lassoed the flipper and disconnected. We then approached it once again for tightening and towing. Eventually the carcass was tied to a pole in the passengers' pier, where it waited for us until the next morning.

On the following day, in a well planned operation byf the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and with the aid of Haifa Port's employees, the whale's 12 m and 3.5 ton carcass was levered onto a truck and transported to its interment at the site of
Dor-Habonim nature reserve.

As daylight was adding and as the carcass had to be covered before dark, a thorough autopsy could not be performed. The flippers and baleen plates were removed, some tissue  samples were taken and the carcass, sandwiched in compost, was buried in order to preserve the skeleton and display it a year from now to the public.

Two weeks ago the crew of the trawler "Iris" reported a whale sighting off Herzliya. It is possible that it was the same individual, but unfortunately due to lack of pictures, we would never know.

The Hebrew article in the Ministry of Environment Protection web site can be read here. An English version published on Haaretz newspaper can be read here



  February, 2007 – Skinny Female Dolphin from Haifa Harbor

please read the story here.