Press Release


The Biological Conservation Research Foundation, BICREF, continues to inspire environmental awareness and involvement of mariners


The Biological Conservation Research Group (BICREF) again gave its message to all the crews of yachts participating in the Rolex Middle Sea Race (RMSR) to keep accurate records of all their dolphin and whale sightings over the 608 nautical mile race. This to aid long-term conservation research.


Starting from Malta, race participants made their way around Sicily, down to Lampedusa and back to Malta. All these silent sailing travelers are not ignored by the different marine mammals in these waters, which often join the race speeding in front of or dancing gracefully besides the boats – adding joy and energy at any time of day and night and in rough or calm seas. Dolphins and whales in Maltese waters and beyond stand as important flagship and indicator species for marine conservation.


In collaboration with the Royal Malta Yacht Club, the BICREF NGO – set out on this incredibly positive experience with yachtsmen from all over the world back in the year 2000! It managed to maintain this effort over the years, receiving many compliments as well.



The 2022 winner of the prestigious BICREF–RMSR Best Dolphin and Whale Sightings Award was the crew of the Orsa Maggiore (skipper Sergio Cozzo), with the crews of Red Ruby, Ekita, Karpo and Pata Negra as runners-up.  Dr Joseph Vella, president of BICREF (left in photo above) presented the AWARD to the winning Skipper and crew of Orsa Maggiore.

Several participants had the advantage to add incredible nature related experiences during their sailing race observing both dolphins and whales in this central Mediterranean Sea. The calmer weather this year increased these sighting opportunities as racing slowed down and nature revealed its awesome treasures.

BICREF ngo volunteers have been assisting conservation biologist, Prof Adriana Vella, in her long-term research and campaigns that involve sea-users contributing to what has become a well-known national effort towards awareness and science in respect of these vulnerable species.  Sea users are also alerted through the Transport Malta Notice to Mariners No 017 of 2022 to report their sightings to the long-term national cetacean research effort led by Prof Vella.

Although Prof Vella’s research encompasses various other species and habitats needing safeguarding, she has worked to involve people who are interested in increasing meaningful nature conservation action and education in the process.  BICREF supplied all the RMSR participants with an identification key to allow them to learn about the different dolphin and whale species that can be seen in the central Mediterranean.


For further information on BICREF’s work and on cetacean conservation research in Maltese waters contact: or Prof Adriana Vella on