The Mediterranean sperm whales are Endangered by human activities. Only about 200 sperm whales live in the eastern Mediterranean. The Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute is studying them the last 25 years and knows most of them as persons, thanks to photo-identification methods that make each whale distinct and unique. Together with their offspring the female sperm whales form large families (social units) that move together.
The majority of them live along the Hellenic Trench, Greece, an IMMA (Important Marine Mammal Area) at global scale. As this video shows, they have their daily lives with social incidents that sometimes look like our own. After many cycles of deep feeding dives of about 40 minutes, the entire family meets at surface to socialize and for calves to be lactated.
The most amazing among the behaviours shown in this video is the tail-slapping of a presumably immature male whale that approached a mature female, but was rejected and pushed away. The unhappy whale is expressing its discontent with seven tail-slaps!
We hope that humans will allow these whales to keep having their own social lives in the years to come. They are our giant peaceful neighbours just a few miles off the coasts of Greece.
During surveys along the Hellenic Trench, Greece, aerial videos of sperm whales, Cuvier’s beaked whales and striped dolphins have been recorded for both scientific use and public awareness purposes.
The Hellenic Trench is an IMMA (Important Marine Mammal Area at the global scale). Nevertheless, no conservation measures have been taken yet and both whales and dolphins are threatened and/or dying by ship-strikes, military sonar use, seismic surveys for oil exploration and digestion of plastic debris.
The surveys were conducted by the Pelagos Cetacean Reserach Institute, which is studying whales and dolphins in the area since 1998. OceanCare (Switzerland) have been supporting these surveys since 2008.