In the last eight months, more than 30 dolphins and 20 sperm whales have been found dead along the coasts of the western Mediterranean, most of them between Sicily and Tuscany. This means that the number of deaths already exceeds the ones in the entire year 2018.
The reasons for this alarming mass mortality are still unknown. The high level of decomposition of some of the animals makes post-mortem analyses difficult. First results, however, show, that certain animals suffered from cetacean morbillivirus. Moreover, their stomachs were either empty or contained plastic debris. If this was the cause for the unusual deaths will be analysed in the coming weeks by the scientists of the “Italian Stranding Network”, including the University of Padua. We are in close contact with the experts and keep you informed.
For the diminishing sperm whale population in the Mediterranean, these deaths are a serious loss. They are a very large, slowly reproducing and vulnerable species, reaching their sexual maturity only late: Females with 9 years, males with about 18. It is therefore of utmost importance to protect the remaining sperm whales in the Mediterranean from all dangers: In addition to plastic waste and underwater noise, collisions with large ships are a major problem. That is why OceanCare, together with scientists from all over Europe, has developed an innovative whale protection system.