They create a system that prevents the collision of sperm whales and ships

Archive image of the sighting of sperm whales in the south of Gran Canaria. / c7

The objective is to apply it in the eastern Mediterranean and, 'a posteriori', in other marine areas where this phenomenon occurs

EFE Madrid

The marine protection organization OceanCare has developed a system that allows
locate the sperm whales by the characteristic sounds they emit to communicate and find food in order to transmit their position in real time and
prevent them from colliding with ships.

The system, called 'SAvE Whales', consists of a series of high-tech buoys submerged up to 100 meters deep and powered by solar energy, which are equipped with hydrophones capable of locating the characteristic sounds of sperm whales, called 'clicks' .

According to its creators, this is a pioneering method for locating cetaceans worldwide and a
milestone in the investigation of these speciesAccording to an article in the magazine
Frontiers in Marine Sciencewhich reflects the results of this pilot project carried out by OceanCare between 2019 and 2021.

The system complements other actions being carried out to protect the last population of sperm whales in the eastern Mediterranean and, although it is particularly recommended for use between Kythira and Cape Tainaro, in Greece,
can also be applied to other waterslike the one surrounding the Balearic Islands.

It is estimated that between 200 and 300 sperm whales currently live in the eastern Mediterranean and even the 'Pelagos' Cetacean Research Institute states that they could have been reduced by half in the last 10 or 15 years, mainly due to
approximately 30,000 ships that cross that area and collide with them.

To try to avoid the extinction of the sperm whales in that area, OceanCare proposes to divert the maritime routes close to Greece, reduce the speed of navigation and use the new SAvE Whales technology when the diversion of ships is not possible.

In the latter case, the sounds emitted by sperm whales in the sea are processed and sent to
three acoustic stations located on land where the animals are analyzed and located to later inform nearby ships in real time of their position so that they can change course and avoid collision.

As reported by OceanCare, more than half of the sperm whales that appear dead in the Hellenic Trench, -a critical habitat for these cetaceans that extends from the Ionian Sea to southern Crete and the Sea of ​​Rhodes- collided with ships and other they suffered serious injuries when they got caught in the propellers.

It is estimated that the population of sperm whales in the eastern Mediterranean has halved in the last 10 years

Although that area is designated as an Important Marine Mammal Area (IMMA) globally and for sperm whales in particular, it is also one of the busiest sea lanes in the world.

For this reason, the SAvE Whales program has been developed to protect sperm whales in areas where it is not possible to prevent ships from crossing their habitat through programmed deviations from their routes, a solution that those responsible for the system intend
andextend to other maritime areas where these animals are also in danger of extinction.

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