Protecting Whales in the Mediterranean Sea

From Bridget Jones on board the Song of the Whale, IFAW’s whale research vessel.

After a busy season of outreach work which included a 10-day visit to the Southampton Boat Show in the UK as well as events in Liverpool, London (UK), Scheveningen (Netherlands), Brussels (Belgium) and La Rochelle (France), Song of the Whale sets off in April for the eastern Mediterranean to continue a research project on sperm whales and other cetaceans started four years ago. This is an ongoing collaboration between IFAW, local research groups and ACCOBAMS, an umbrella intergovernmental organisation set up to provide protection for the increasingly threatened whales and dolphins of the Mediterranean Sea.

Human activities threaten whales

There are a wide variety of human activities that threaten the continued existence of marine mammals in the Mediterranean Sea and result in damage to the marine environment. These include fishing activities that can result in accidental entanglement and prey depletion, underwater sound pollution from shipping, sonar, underwater drilling and seismic surveys that can reduce the ability to communicate, find food and navigate, pollution from chemicals and floating debris (such as plastics) and collisions with ships.

Mediterranean-wide survey planned

The SOTW team will investigate the abundance and distribution of certain species of whales, particularly sperm whales.  This information will then be used by ACCOBAMS to improve protection for the 21 species of whales and dolphins that have been recorded in this vulnerable habitat.  The data collected by the IFAW team will also form the basis of planning for a future Mediterranean-wide whale and dolphin survey.

The SOTW team will be hosting local students and scientists onboard to work together and share information about the non-invasive techniques IFAW uses to study whales and their marine habitats.

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