The Balearic Sperm Whale Project

balearic_5The population of sperm whales inhabiting the Mediterranean Sea has been classified as ‘Endangered’ under the IUCN Red List criteria. Mediterranean sperm whales are thought to number in the low thousands and possibly even the hundreds, and there are indications that the population is declining as a result of by-catch in illegal driftnets, vessel collisions, noise pollution and other forms of human disturbance. It has been repeatedly highlighted that identifying sperm whale critical habitat throughout the Mediterranean is a “key requirement for ensuring the survival of the species in the region”.

Sperm whale with propeller injury
Sperm whale with propeller injury

Since 2003, the Balearic Sperm Whale Project (BSWP), a collaboration between the Dr. Luke Rendell of the University of St Andrews and the Spanish NGO ‘Asociacion Tursiops’, has been collecting data on the abundance, habitat preferences and behaviour of whales around the Balearic archipelago in the western Mediterranean.

Our work is essential if we are to understand how many whales there are in this population, and what the principal threats to their sustainable persistence are. Our data are provided through annual reports to the Spanish Government, as well as to international bodies such as ACCOBAMS on request.