[WILD_SEAS] Rare Whale Visits Adriatic Sea

From: wildnet (wildnet@ecoterra.net)
Date: Sat Mar 17 2001 - 11:12:39 EST


Rare Whale Visits Adriatic Sea

Munich/Dubrovnik March 17, 2001 - For the first time since 62 years,
a Northern Bottlenose Whale has come again to the Adriatic Sea.

The nosy whale of more than five meters in length is still in the
Zupski Zaljev bay south of Dubrovnik. The appearance and
behavior of the lone marine mammal suggest its good health.

Thanks to the immediate protection measures, initiated by the
Croatian project partners of GRD (German Dolphin Conservation
Society), the unusual and rare guest can enjoy an undisturbed stay.

The usual habitat of the Northern Bottlenose Whale (Hyperoodon
ampullatus), a species under protection since 1977, is the North
Atlantic Ocean and only very rarely it can be found in the
Mediterranean.
The last sighting in the Adriatic Sea was in 1939 - in almost the same
area.
Unfortunately, the visit then came to a sudden and sad end: Fishermen
killed
th whale with an axe and traveled with its dead body across the country,

exhibiting it for money.

"Luckily, people today are much more receptive to whale and dolphin
protection", said Martina Duras, veterinarian with a dolphin rescue
project
in Croatia. "Reports on sightings by local residents allow us to react
immediately and subsequent temporary protective measures generally are
met with positive response", she stated.

Speculations on other Bottlenose Whales being in the area were not
confirmed so far, though characteristicly these whales often stay with
injured
members of their normally rather small pods (4 to 10 animals), even
beyond
the death of these animals. This behavior and being attracted by any
noise
made them easy prey to whalers, who killed tens of thousands of them in
the times between 1850 and 1973.

Thanks to Prof. Gomercic of Zagreb University, people were immediately
informed about the whale's presence and protective regulations enacted.
To set any fishing nets in the bay has been banned and the protection
is enforced by police. The temporary ban of fishing nets from the whole
bay will stay until the marine mammal has left the area

Increased conservation efforts and the growing acceptance among the
Croatian population were mainly achieved by the excellent activities in
awareness creation carried out by the Zagreb scientists, who, within the

"Save the Last Adriatic Dolphins"-project, a joint programme of Zagreb
University and GRD, fight for the survival of the about 220 bottlenose
dolphins left in the Adriatic Sea.

The goal of this project, which started in June 2000, is the
establishment
of one or several dolphin sanctuaries. It is carried out within the
framework of the Agreement on the Conservation of Cetaceans of the
Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and Contiguous Atlantic Area
(ACCOBAMS), which was ratified by Croatia last fall.
Further objectives of the programme include the collection of data,
incl.
data on beached dolphins, the mitigation of negative human impacts
on cetaceans - like fishing, tourism and marine pollution - rescue
measures for cetaceans stranded alive and the enhancement of public
awareness.

**********************************************************

For more information contact:

GRD - German Dolphin Conservation Society
Kornwegerstr. 37 - 81375 München - Germany
ph.: +49-89-74 16 04 10 - fax: +49-89-74 16 04 11
info@delphinschutz.org
www.delphinschutz.org

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