A scientific study has begun in the Balearic Islands to assess the damage to sperm whales caused by collisions with boats.
As part of the ‘Colca’ study, the Tursiops Association will take aerial and underwater photographs of the entire cetacean in order to analyse the nature and scope of the scars left on their bodies.
The sperm whale population in the Mediterranean has been listed as an ‘endangered species' by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, or IUCN, and collisions with boats are one of the main reasons for their demise.
According to experts, the waters of the Balearic Islands are a unique enclave in the Mediterranean for sperm whales and have been declared an important area for the conservation of Marine Mammals, or IMMA.
Research by Tursiops has uncovered a significant number of sperm whales with collision scars in the Balearic Islands.
The ‘Colca’ project will help scientists to understand the problem and develop ways to minimise the risk, with the support of the Biodiversity Foundation of the Ministry for Ecological Transition & Demographic Challenge.
The main objective is to determine the degree of impact suffered by the Balearic sperm whale population and the ecological consequences.
"Although there is still a long way to go, the aim is to find a solution to the problem in collaboration with administrations and companies involved," said Tursiops.
Throughout 2020, the Tursiops boat will sail around the Balearic Islands locating the sperm whales via the sound they make and through drones and they will also take aerial and submarine photos so that they can see their scars.
A collision risk map showing areas with high numbers of sperm whales and maritime traffic will be created to determine how serious the problem is and to help experts develop strategies to prevent collisions between boats and sperm whales in the future.