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Sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus, in the Mediterranean Sea: a summary of status, threats, and conservation recommendations

November 26, 2013

Sperm whales in the Mediterranean are a genetically distinct population classified as Endangered on the basis of the IUCN Red List criteria.
Threats that result in sperm whale direct mortality, such as bycatch in illegal driftnets and collisions with ships, together with the noxious effects of noise, pollution, ingestion of solid debris, disturbance from irresponsible whale watching operations, and possibly prey depletion and climate change, affect the survival of the Mediterranean population and are the cause of an inferred continuing decline.
Recommendations to sustain the presence of sperm whales in the Mediterranean in the future include respecting existing fishery, pollution and whale watching regulations, and introducing precautionary noise and maritime traffic regulations in areas characterized by high sperm whale densities, some of which could be considered for MPA designation. Finally, the regular monitoring of sperm whale population ecology, behaviour and mortality at the regional scale, to detect trends and help to understand links between the observed phenomena and their possible cause(s), could help to address other potential threats, such as prey depletion and climate change.

Notarbartolo-Di-Sciara G, in press. Sperm whales, Physeter macrocephalus, in the Mediterranean Sea: a summary of status, threats, and conservation recommendations, Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 2013, doi:10.1002/aqc.2409. Article.

 

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