Busy Shipping Routes Are Bringing Demise To Last Greek Whales

The fate of sperm whales in the Mediterranean lies in our ability to avoid shipping collisions with them

In an office up a steep hill in a seaside suburb of Athens, a tiny blue light flickers from a computer terminal. Dr Alexandros Frantzis, Greece’s foremost oceanographer, points it out. The light, he says, tracks marine traffic “in real time”.

It is key to saving one of the world’s most endangered whale populations.

“Every few seconds it logs the position, course and speed of a vessel entering Greek waters,” he says. “And that is vital to mapping shipping densities in areas populated by sperm whales.”

Frantzis has spent nearly a quarter of a century studying marine mammals. His desk, like his small Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute, is testimony to a passion that has helped transform understanding of dolphins, porpoises and whales in a country where little was known about marine life barely two decades ago.

Shelves are stacked high with the bones of sea mammals big and small. The remains of a sperm whale’s lower jaw are propped against a wall in his back office.

Photo: Gabriel Barathieu/Wikimedia Commons

To view the Creative Commons license for the image, click here.

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