A young, 14-metre long fin whale was identified in the Saronic Gulf on Wednesday the 16th of May, by a member of Archipelagos’ observation network. This impressive mammal was spotted in the NW region of Aegina, remaining in the gulf for two days to feed, and then departing in an unknown direction. The research team of Archipelagos, for obvious reasons related to the safety of the animal, did not announce the event in real time.
The whales of the Greek seas are still largely unknown to the public, a fact that shows the general ignorance about this unique sea and the rare biodiversity it supports. Although the international scientific community recognizes that the northeast Mediterranean, and especially the Aegean Sea, support one of the most important marine mammal populations remaining in the Mediterranean, the absence of management, protection measures, and environmental awareness, is creating a dangerous scenario for the survival of this great biodiversity and natural heritage. The future of marine mammals and other rare species living in the Greek seas is increasingly threatened every day by human activities.
The high traffic of commercial vessels without central control or prevention measures in place, the absence of an effective plan to manage a marine accident, and the rising pollution of marine ecosystems, all threaten the rich wildlife diversity of Greek marine ecosystems. There is an urgent need for the implementation of basic efficient management measures to protect the Greek seas and its unique biodiversity. Through systematic research and active conservation actions, Archipelagos (www.archipelago.gr) works to spread awareness, engage a broad group of stakeholders and the wider public in conservation efforts, and urge the national and EU authorities to increase the effectiveness of conservation measures.
About fin whales (Balaenoptera physalus)
The fin whale is a species that occasionally crosses the Greek seas, more frequently recorded in the Ionian Sea than the Aegean. It can reach a maximum length of 25 metres, can weigh up to 40-60 tones, and has a life expectancy that can exceed 80 years. It is dark grey on the back and white on the belly. It swims at a maximum speed of up to 14 knots and dives to depths reaching 400metres, with an impressive expiration reaching a height of 6 metres. Fin whales mainly feed on small fish and zooplankton.
An increasing threat to fin whales are vessel strikes and collision, especially with large ships travelling at high speed, which is now recognized as one of the leading causes of death. The exact population size of this species is unknown, but in the Mediterranean Sea it is estimated to be fewer than 10.000 adult individuals, therefore we must act now to conserve this giant of the sea.