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Occurrence and spatio-temporal distribution of sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the submarine canyon of Cuma (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy)

July 15, 2014

Boat surveys aimed at studying sperm whales in the Tyrrhenian Sea were conducted between 2002 and 2011. During 768 daily surveys, a total effort of 32 602 km was achieved within an area of 8800 km2 resulting in 92 encounters with 229 sperm whale individuals. Average encounter rates of sperm whales was 0.5 groups per 100 km2, with a higher concentration in the vicinity of the submarine canyon of Cuma, confirming the importance for the species of this small hotspot in the Mediterranean Sea. Encounter rates increased with increasing distance from the coast. It is possible that the intense boat traffic and anthropogenic disturbance in the area may be moving animals away from the coast leading to habitat loss. The species–habitat relationship documented in this study has implications for conservation.

Mussi B, Miragliuolo A, Zucchini A, Pace DS, 2014: Occurrence and spatio-temporal distribution of sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) in the submarine canyon of Cuma (Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy), Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 24(S1), 59-70, doi:10.1002/aqc.2460. Article (subscription required).

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