Survival in the Mediterranean Sea: the sperm whale Atlante.

The 34th conference of the European Cetacean Society in Galicia, Spain, recently concluded. We present one of our contributions in collaboration with other associations.

The study reported the case of a sperm whale named Atlante, with clear signs of an interaction with a propeller that has removed up to 25-30% of its fluke. This animal was sighted for the first time in October 2021 in the northern area of the Pelagos Sanctuary and in May and July 2022, respectively, in the Ischia and Ventotene IMMA and again in the Ligurian Sea, recording a displacement of 660 nautical miles in 292 days.

Due to the body length estimates, assessed with Inter-Pulse-Intervals and aerial images, and the presence of other individuals in each sighting, Atlante has been classified as a juvenile. In all sightings, the animal performed typical feeding dives of about 40 min and the aerial images didn’t reveal any weight loss. These findings suggest that despite the injury, this animal can feed regularly and undertake long movements within the western basin. The marks on the fluke reveal that ship strike is a real danger to this species in the Mediterranean Sea.

Sharing Atlante’s fluke and records with the scientific community is fundamental to keeping track on this animal. Further data will be valuable for a better knowledge of how this species can survive and live after this trauma.