Mediterranean Fin Whales More Threatened Than Thought

fin whale photoNOAA/Public Domain

A new study of the fin whales in the Mediterranean finds that previous estimates of the their population overestimated their numbers. Previously thought to number about 3,500, new research shows that previous work wrongly included fin whales coming into the sea from the Atlantic Ocean.

In fact, whales found in around the Straits of Gibraltar and the southwest part of the Mediterranean are exclusively whales from the Atlantic that visit the area in autumn and spring.

The same researchers, in another study, looked at the effect of undersea noise, from maritime traffic and underwater geophysical exploration, finding that noise from the latter results in "massive displacement of fin a distance of 285km from the study area." (Science Daily)

In short, in the words of study's lead author, "the population of Mediterranean fin whales presents a much more limited distribution than currently described, [and] noise in the marine medium, despite being recognized as a significant pollutant, is far from being controlled and regulated within the waters of the exclusive economic zone of Spain."

Fin whales are the most common large whales species in the Mediterranean, most often found in deep, offshore waters.

Mediterranean Fin Whales More Threatened Than Thought
Previous censuses of Mediterranean fin whale populations have wrongly included whales from the Atlantic population, which sometimes visit the region.

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