The conservation status of whales and dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea is of growing concern due to increasing pressure from human activities.
Unknown to most people, about 15 different species of whales and dolphins can be found in the Mediterranean Sea and eight of them regularly.
The situation of three whale and dolphin species – sperm whale, common dolphin and bottlenose dolphin – is critical and one – the orca in the Strait of Gibraltar – is in immediate danger of extinction.
Even common dolphins, once the most abundant species in the Mediterranean, are now classified as Endangered in the IUCN Red List. This species has disappeared from the Adriatic Sea due to human impact and it faces local extinction in the Ionian Sea.
“The Mediterranean is a sad case of fisheries mismanagement. Accidental death in fishing gear and over-fishing threaten top marine predators such as dolphins” explains Sigrid Lueber from OceanCare.
“Immediate action is needed, but governments have so far failed to implement proper conservation measures to give whales and dolphins a future in the region” says Nicolas Entrup from WDCS, the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society.
To respond to political stagnation and to address these problems, research and conservation organizations have recently joined forces and created a new and influential network committed to preserving marine biodiversity and reducing human impact on cetacean populations.
The network, called Cetacean Alliance, aims to develop synergies and create opportunities for collaboration among individuals and organizations determined to protect cetacean populations living in the Mediterranean Sea.
The alliance includes research and conservation NGOs with bases in Austria, Croatia, Germany, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland and the U.K, representing a collective membership of over 100,000 supporters.
Cetacean Alliance has launched a website – http://www.cetaceanalliance.org – that aims to disseminate information, raise awareness, promote marine conservation and ultimately facilitate the recovery of dolphins and whales living in Mediterranean waters.
The web site features educational materials, videos, research updates, conservation-oriented information, and tips for interested students keen to study whales and dolphins.