19 August 2010

Third ship-struck whale reported in the Pelagos Sanctuary this summer

Today, August 19th, Tethys researchers surveying the Ligurian Sea waters 17 km off Sanremo encountered a sperm whale with serious ship-strike wounds on its back.

The researchers tracked the animal using their towed hydrophone array, until it surfaced again. The sperm whale was exhibiting unusual behaviour: these large cetaceans usually stay still at the surface while recovering from a deep dive. This particular individual, however, was swimming at a fast pace, suggesting avoidance behaviour towards boats.

The researchers managed to take a few pictures of the wound before the animal disappeared underwater, likely swimming away from the boat. It was only fair to leave the animal alone to avoid further disturbance.

This encounter further documents that ship collisions with large whales are a common occurrence within the protected waters of the Pelagos Sanctuary, and that further enforcement is needed to effectively protect these magnificent creatures.

Viridiana Jimenez and Elisa Remonato

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