The Rugvin Foundation


The Rugvin (Dorsal fin) foundation was established in 2007, after a two year project period under the umbrella of the North Sea Foundation (SDN).

The foundation has the following aims:

1) To conduct research on diversity, population dynamics, behaviour of all whale species in the North Sea and to publish all found data to the Dutch audience on behalve of information and education.

2) To conduct all further needed actions connected with the above stated goal in the most broad sense.

3) The foundation tries to reach its goals by the conduction of systematic surveys at sea.

To achieve the above mentioned goals and aims Rugvin conducts the following activities:


Monitoring on Stena Line platform:

The surveys on the Stena Line ferries continued as described in the annual reports (Zanderink & Osinga, 2005 -2010). Observers spot cetaceans from the bridges of the ferries on a monthly basis. The total observing time is approximately six hours per survey day and each survey consists of two survey days. The first day of observation is on the Stena Hollandica, when the observers travel from Hook of Holland to Harwich. On the following day the observers travel back to Hook of Holland on the Stena Britannica.


Research on the Oosterscheldt estuary.

1. Annual count of porpoises presetn on the inisde of the Oosterscheldt estuary.

2. Acoustic research to determine how frequent harbour porpoises migrate through the Storm surge barrier.

3. Identification of individual porpoises present in the esturay.



  1. Website
  2. Annual report
  3. press releases
  4. Brochures
  5. Lectures
  6. Presentation at ECS conference



Sponsors & Partners

The work of the Rugvin foundation would not be possibe without the support and collaboration of organisations and companies mentioned below:

Stena Hollandica on its way to Harwich.


Stena Line
Since 2005, Stena Line, offers the Rugvin foundation the possibility to make use of the observation bridge of the ferries Hollandica and Britannica. Each month the crew welcomes our volunteers enthusiastically and offer us food and drinks. Also the crew itself who are well informed and aware about cetaceans, spot porpoises on a regular basis and register these sightings. The Rugvin foundation is grateful and thankful to the management and crew for their support and participation!


World Wide Fund for Nature
Thanks to financial support and good collaboration with the World Wide Fund for Nature, the dorsal fin foundation could organize the first official porpoise scan at the Oosterschelde. Besides the Rugvin volunteers, also fourteen “Lifeguards” participated this scan. The WWF enabled the possibility to use several boats for the scan, and they contributed to the purchase of the hydrophone, which could be used during the scan. Also the later scans (2010, 2011, 2013, and 2014) were financially supported by the WWF. In addition, the WWF made it possible to purchase the C-pods, which were used for acoustic research in the Oosterschelde.

Peter and Frank Peter bring in a C-pod


The department of public works
Between December 2009 and 2013 several C-pods were placed on both sides of the storm surge barrier of the Eastern Scheldt. The memory cards, containing valuable data, and batteries of these C-pods had to be changed regularly. Thanks to the cooperation of the department of public works, who made available crew and materials, the C-pods could be reached and placed back. The acoustic research to the migration of porpoises through the storm surge barrier of the Eastern Scheldt has been ended. The final report can be read here.


Cooperating organizations

ECMC (previously ARC)
After the start of the Rugvin foundation in 2005, Rugvin joined the Atlantic Research Coalition. The research organizations (nine in total) from Spain, Ireland, Great-Britain and the Netherlands who are part of this coalition, use ferries on the European seas as research platform. By using the same research systematics and research methods, their work is convenient. In addition, they publish their findings in joint research reports via the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), and there is a yearly meeting during the European Cetacean Society Conference (ECS).

In 2014, ARC promoted into a better coalition, (European Cetacean Monitoring Coalition) which aims to use their data as shared data.

Besides the Rugvin Foundation, the ECMC consists of the following eight organizations:
– Organisation Cetacea (ORCA)
– University of Aberdeen
– Norcet
– Irish Whale and Dolphin Group (IWDG)
– Marinelife (Biscay Dolphin Research Programme)
– Seatrust
– Plymouth to Santander Marine Survey

Other Organisations
Moreover the Rugvin foundation has good bonds with the North Sea foundation and SOS Dolphin, with whom Rugvin published a brochure with financial support of the WWF. A few volunteers of Rugvin are working for these organisations. The National Park Eastern Scheldt supports Rugvin with notifying the Dutch public about the presence of the porpoise in the Oosterschelde.


Studio Porpoise


Studio Porpoise

In the Dutch part of the North Sea the number of porpoises increases. Also in the Eastern Scheldt, where 30-40 of these cetaceans stay permanently.

The Rugvin foundation performed many studies to porpoises in the Eastern Scheldt over the past years (since 2009). Due to this it is known that nearby the jetty of Zierikzee porpoises are often spotted. This porpoise hotspot even is one of the best and easy accessible places to spot porpoise in the Netherlands/Europe!

The access to this jetty has improved over the last years due to the creation of cycling and walking paths, and there are even benches placed to have a seat! It is the ideal spot to watch “our whale”!

Studio Porpoise allows visitors to listen to life recording sounds of porpoises swimming nearby, from a distance of several hundred meters. This means you can watch and listen to the animals that project their sounds (echolocation/sonar) to find their way, catch preys and communication.

One of the porpoises in front of the buoy with the hydrophone

The Rugvin foundation realised Studio Porpoise together with her partners the World Wide Fund for Nature, National Park Eastern Scheldt , Natuurmonumenten, and the Municipality of Schouwen-Duiveland. In October 2016 Studio Porpoise was put into use.

Click here for a preview of a hunting porpoise and here for a quietly swimming porpoise.

Please come and visit and listen to the porposies at the jetty of Zierikzee.


Students and internships


At the Rugvin foundation there are positions on a regular basis for students to do research on one of the many questions in the world of cetaceans.
At this moment the following (ex) students are active at Rugvin:


Noémie, Naomi and Sanne, the porpoise Photo ID team 2015.

Sanne Bakkers, Naomi Tuhuteru and Noémi Ghins. They are working on the photo-identification of porpoises in the Eastern Scheldt. Momentarily they are working on the set-up of the porpoise catalogue.








In the past many students contributed research for the Rugvin foundation (from recent to past):

Larsissa tijdens de bruinvistelling 2014

Larissa Wagenaar worked on the monitoring data (2010-2012) of the Stena Line observations. And she investigated the effects of the Japanese Oyster on fish larvae in the Eastern Scheldt to see if there is a connection between this and the starvation of porpoises in the Eastern Scheldt. You can find Report Role of the Japanese Oyster in the high mortality of Harbour Porpoises(2) here.



Joao Rodriguez finished the overall acoustic research, including some concluding remarks on the migration of porpoises through the Storm Surge barrier of the Eastern Scheldt.








Margherita en Frank bekijken de C-pod

Margherita Zorgno studied the underlying reason for causes of death of porpoises in the Eastern Scheldt. Final THESIS Porpoise mortality in ES June 30



Caitlin Eindhoven passed her exams with her study on sighting data form the Stena Line on the North Sea. You can read her report here.



Niki and Catalina

In April 2012, Niki Karagkouni and Catalina Angel, two students from Greece and Colombia started a follow up study on the Eastern Scheldt. You can find their report by clicking on Acoustic research in the Easter Scheldt.








Sophie en Lotte op hotspot

And Lotte Niemeijer and Sophie Neitzel mapped all the porpoise hotspots of the Eastern Scheldt. Click here to download their Hotspot report by Neitzel, S._Niemeijer, L. (2012)







Lisanne Korpelshoek wordt geïnterviewd door Jeanette Parramore van Vara’s vroege Vogels.

In 2010 – 2011, Lisanne Korpelshoek looked how frequently porpoises cross the Eastern Scheldt barrier with the use of C-pods. The report can be donwloaded via this link. Final Report Lisanne Korpelshoek




Ingrid van Dam performed research in 2010 to the appearance and spread of the porpoise in the Oosterschelde in relation to their feeding behaviour.


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