The Inner Ionian Sea Archipelago, where the IDP started in 1991, is just a few kilometres south of the Gulf. Research in this area was initially intended to focus on the ecology and behaviour of common dolphins in a place where these animals were particularly abundant. Instead, the study became a documentation of their sharp decline. Common dolphins in this area declined dramatically from approximately 150 to 15 animals between 1995 and 2007. Since then, a few sightings have been reported in the adjacent waters. Monitoring done in subsequent years (2008-2013) together with numerous reports of opportunistic sightings provided by sailors/boaters collaborating with the IDP showed that a few animals are still present and they likely roam across a much wider area, occasionally moving into their former wonderland. A number of calls were made by several marine conservation organisations to facilitate their recovery, to no avail. Decline of common dolphins in this area has been convincingly linked to overfishing and specific fisheries management solutions have been advocated.
Bottlenose dolphins are found in relatively small numbers, but they seem to have stable trends. Of about 120 individuals photo-identified in this area, about one quarter have shown high levels of site fidelity, while the others are transients. However, even individuals with high levels of ‘residency’ were found to make long-distance movements.
Groups of striped dolphins (Stenella coeruleoalba) occasionally enter these waters. A few occasional sightings of single individuals of Mediterranean monk seal (Monachus monachus) have also occurred.