In parallel with the various research, conservation and educational actions of Archipelagos Institute carried out in many parts of Greece, our concern for the future of our seas exceed the limits of the Mediterranean.
One of the main problems we try to address in the more distant seas is the frequent and fatal collisions of whales with fast commercial ships recorded in the waters south of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean. This area is considered as one of the most significant cetacean aggregation zones in the world, while also supporting an important population of blue whales – the largest mammal that has ever lived on the planet.
The global populations of this giant of our seas faced a dramatic decline of over 90% due to whaling, from which it has not recovered to date. The blue whales that escaped from whaling, now face another major threat, the fatal ship strikes from the fast commercial ships, especially tankers that travel at high speeds and in large numbers in the same waters as these large cetacean populations.
With the aim of contributing to the solution of this complex problem, researchers of Archipelagos Institute are cooperating with our colleagues in Sri Lanka, with whom we share the same concern for the survival of these special animals. Our aim is the development and application of measures that will reduce incidents of ship strikes of whales with commercial vessels. For this purpose a new International Oceanology Centre is currently in the process of being established, in which Archipelagos will be among the founding members.
The waters of the area are considered among the most important marine regions of the world with regard to marine mammal populations as they support over 25 species. In our research zone we recorded blue whales, grey whales, sperm whales, fin whales, orcas as well as five other cetacean species.
This exceptional biodiversity has been relatively unknown since, for years, Sri Lanka received little media attention on its natural wealth due to its long civil war which ended about seven years ago. Today, Sri Lanka has recovered from this war, developing its economy, while at the same time taking responsible measures to protect their wildlife.