February 18, 2019 - A single Bottlenose dolphin was found decomposing on Sveti Nikola Island, not far from the coast of the mainland in Budva, reported SANCET- Southern Adriatic Network for Cetacean, Elasmobranch and Turtle Strandings.
After receiving a call on the evening of Sunday, 17 February, with reports of the dead stranded dolphin on the island close to Budva, the Montenegro Dolphin Research (MDR) team, led by Lucy Abbiss, a British Divers Marine Life Rescue (BDMLR) trained marine mammal medic and Researcher for the Marine Mammals Research Association (DMAD), visited the site to retrieve data for scientific purposes.
Despite the individual - identified as a juvenile, demonstrating early signs of decomposition, the team delineated that the dolphin had not undergone any physical injuries causing its death and that the markings seen were merely signs of decomposition. Although it is not clear what may have caused the death or stranding of the dolphin without further analysis through autopsy, it is possible that the time it was stranded coincides with the current seismic activity in Montenegro, could be related. Alternatively, there is the possibility of the death being related to zoonotic viruses, previous storm-related activities or other natural causes.
DMAD has successfully operated the first long-term study on dolphins in Montenegro, starting the Montenegro Dolphin Research project in September 2016. As of December 2018, the organization established the Southern Adriatic Network for Cetacean, Elasmobranch and Turtles stranding events (SANCET). Since then, SANCET, currently in the early stages of development, have already conducted various stranding surveys from Ada Bojana to Jaz. As the network continues to develop, the need for the help of the public and other scientific organizations grows stronger,” reported SANCET on their website.
“The help of other organizations participating in the Southern Adriatic Stranding Network (SANCET) is essential to further delineate the cause of death, aiding the conservation management plans for Montenegro's marine life,” emphasized SANCET on their website.
SANCET, founded in December 2018, is aimed at providing the first regional network for centralizing information on marine life stranding in Montenegro, with the hope to expand future operations in both Albania and Bosnia. With the current situation of cetacean stranding monitoring is being absent from the Eastern region of the South Adriatic and with a lack of national stranding networks, SANCET hopes to provide a database that encompasses all or part of the coastlines above.