A Strike Against Dolphins in Sicily - Atlas Obscura
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A Strike Against Dolphins in Sicily

They’re eating all of the squid.

A small fishing boat off the Aeolian Islands.
A small fishing boat off the Aeolian Islands. stefan_fotos/CC BY-SA 2.0

Last Tuesday, Paris’s exterminators plopped a dead rat outside of City Hall and agitated for reinforcements, unpaid bonuses, and appreciation. This week, there’s a different European worker/urban animal conflict: dolphins are pissing off fishermen in Italy, and the fishermen are going on strike.

The complaint? The dolphins are eating all the squid. As The Local reports, about a hundred each of dolphins and small fishing boats share the water around the Aeolian islands, just north of Sicily. While an average fishing boat used to haul in around 25 pounds of squid per day, the take is down to about three pounds due to hungry dolphins.

It’s gotten so bad that the fishermen, normally comfortable at sea, have become afraid of the dolphins. “We hear the snorting of the dolphins and begin to shake,” Vincenzo Giuffre, who has been fishing for 25 years, told the Repubblica Palermo. “There are no more fish for us. They come out from the water and show us their grins.”

A couple of dolphins frolic in the waters of Sicily.
A couple of dolphins frolic in the waters of Sicily. Richard Munden/CC BY-SA 2.0

Some solutions are in the works—starting in May, some boats will get pinging devices designed to drive away the dolphins—but there’s no guarantee of their effectiveness. The local fishing consortium, Co.Ge.Pa, is calling for the dolphins to be removed from fishing areas and put somewhere else.

“Every night in the sea, there is a war for survival,” consortium vice-president Giuseppe Spinella told Reppublica. “We have nothing against the dolphins, but we must find a solution.”

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