A juvenile Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus) measuring 12.60m in length and weighing 8.3 tonnes was found stranded on Friday 23rd September 2011 on Mikri Venetia Beach in west Mykonos. Indications so far have led to the conclusion that the mammal died as a result of a collision with a vessel. Multiple external wounds visible on the animal, thought to be caused by a propeller, as well as obvious marks from antifouling paint are further indicative of the cause of death.
Archipelagos have cooperated with the local authorities for the conduction of a necropsy, in order for samples to be collected for toxicological analysis. Moreover, the appropriate burial of the animal has been ensured. The skeleton of the animal will be recovered in the future and form an educational exhibit within a museum to be created on Mykonos island.
The fin whale is a species that is an occasional visitor to the Greek Seas but is seen more commonly within the Ionian Sea. It is a species of baleen whale, and filters its food, primarily small fish and krill, from the water using bristle like threads. Fin whales can reach up to 20m in length and can live for 80 years. Collisions of whales with large vessels are becoming ever more common, and are recognised as one of the primary causes of death to large marine mammals, particularly in areas of high boat traffic.
Archipelagos works to raise awareness of the issue of marine traffic to the authorities, highlighting that the enforcement of strict laws and regulations with regard to shipping and boat traffic are fundamental in the Greek Seas. This is particularly important in areas that form part of the migration routes of marine mammals. Previous responses to Archipelagos from the Greek Navy on such matters have, in the past, proven to be of a positive nature and are an important first step towards efficient measures to be taken while carrying out military operations, with the aim to minimize their impact on wildlife.
In several EU countries during the past few years, effective networks of communication and information exchange have been developed between cargo, passenger and military vessels. These networks aim to create relevant alerts through the exchange of information on large marine mammal sightings, contributing in this way to avoid collisions, and exposure to military sonars.
In a period of continuous degradation of the marine ecosystems, Archipelagos targets to develop such an information network in Greece, with the aim to secure in the maximum the future of marine mammals that inhabit our seas.