Sperm whales in danger in Mallorcan waters
A marine mammal conservation group from Palma, Associacion Tursiops, has just completed another research campaign in waters around Mallorca and the other Balearic Islands to gather data and
information about the sea animals native to the area.
Tursiops is a non-profit organisation founded in 1998 with the aim of contributing to the conservation and protection of large marine mammals through research in the western Mediterranean.
The 2015 study campaign found that there were around 400 sperm whales - they're an endangered species - in the area. The second biggest sea animal in the Med after the fin whale, the
sperm whale can dive to depths of 2000 metres and hold its breath for 2 hours and so is rarely seen from shore. They were located by the Tursiops crew using sound equipment which detected their
characteristic clicking noises used to communicate.
Worryingly, the survey revealed that some females with calves had been injured - presumably by boats – and had scars and other signs of damage to their heads and backs. Whilst not life threatening
it's thought that the injuries may prevent the females from breeding in the future, normally every 4 to 20 years.
The female whales live in groups with other mothers whilst they nurse their calves for around 10 years. Males live more solitary lives but they all have a part to play in the delicate ecosystems of
the sea – the way they eat and defecate helps to 'recycle' the marine environment, so their disappearance would affect other species.
Now, whilst most of us will probably never see a sperm whale whilst we're on holiday in Mallorca, there are other marine mammals that we are likely to see in their natural habitat off the coast.
Tursiops also detected groups of pilot whales, bottlenose dolphins, and common dolphins in their studies and if you're lucky you may well be accompanied by these playful animals on a pleasure
cruise from one of the resorts.
Photos courtesy of Associacion Tursiops