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Objective

WhaleSafe
Whale protection from Strike by Active cetaceans detection and alarm issue and Ferries

Targeted Species & Habitats

WhaleSafe

About this project

WhaleSafe
The Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals is a special marine protected area in the North-Western Mediterranean Sea. It is located between Liguria, France and Sardinia, and covers an area of around 90,000 km2. The sanctuary is the most important breeding and feeding site for cetacean populations living in the Mediterranean Sea and thus crucial for their well-being. The unique seabed features in the area, such as canyons, attract a large number of sperm whales that often emerge near the coast. Major commercial, tourist and industrial sites are also located in the area, and marine traffic (e.g. passenger, cargo and fishing boats) increases particularly during the summer, when the presence of sperm whales is also higher. Collisions and injured animals are consequently frequent and have a very high negative impact on the species, whose Mediterranean sub-population counts at just 2,500 mature individuals. The project wants to develop an interference avoidance system aimed at detecting and tracking sperm whales, identifying threats to them, and preventing collisions and other risks by issuing warning messages in real time to vessels in the area. A protocol for reducing the disturbance and impact risks is being drafted in cooperation with the local coast guard, and agreed by all stakeholders involved. After receiving the warning message, ships will be invited to apply this protocol and the coast guard will supervise its application. The system is innovative because it prevents ship impacts with the whales by monitoring and tracking the animals underwater, by acoustic means. This aspect is vital, considering sperm whales spend three quarters of their time underwater.

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WhaleSafe

Contact

WhaleSafe
University of Genoa
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