Photo-Identification Project: Whales and dolphins along the Catalan coast
DESCRIPTION OF THE PROJECT
The aim of this project is to study the different cetacean communities that are spotted off the coast of el Garraf. We want to know which species inhabit the area, which are the habitats where they can be found and to deepen our knowledge on their relationships and identification.
There are 8 cetacean species considered resident in the Mediterranean Sea: the fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), the striped dolphin (Stenella coreuleoalba), the bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), the short-beaked common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), the Risso’s dolphin (Grampus griseus), the long-finned pilot whale (Globicephala melas) and the Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris). Some of them come to the Catalan coast during their annual migrations, ore come here more frequently. With this project, we continue the work started in 2013 with the Fin Whale Projec. We will study the different cetacean populations off the coast of el Garraf, focussing in their composition, distribution and their photo-identification.
The study area is the same area used in the Fin Whale Project and it is located in the waters in front of the central Catalan coast, between the villages of Castellfdefels and Segur de Calafell. The study will focus on a zone located between 5 and 12 nautical miles offshore and between the 200 and 1000 meters isobaths. This study area was chosen after finding out that there are several documented fin whale and other cetacean species sightings in this zone during the last few years.
Different cetacean species can be seen in front of the Catalan coast and some of them have been sighted in front of the coast of el Garraf. With this project, we want to study them, their populations and, with other organizations cooperation, compare our findings with the results of other areas of the coast. Our main goals are:
- Whats the importance of this region of the western Mediterranean Sea for the different species of cetaceans?
- What is their distribution in this area?
- Are there calving zones? Where?
- Do the individuals sighted live in the area or do they undertake regular migrations to the area?
- Last, create a catalogue that allows us the photo-identification of every spotted individual.
The Sightings Project is a non-invasive study in which we take geographic, environmental data, as well as behavioural and group composition data of the studied species. We also take photographs of all the individuals sighted.
The surveys are fulfilled following the guidelines of the Royal Decree 1727/2007, concerning the protections measures for cetaceans. We developed 5 different transects that allow us to study the area in a more complete and systematic way.
During the sighting surveys coducted whithin the framework of the project, we have been able to see 6 different sepcies of cetaceans, including among others the spectacular striped dolphin or the majestic fin whale. Thanks to all the photographs taken and the collaboration of a group of volunteers, we have been able to begin the development of two photo-identification catalogues:
You will find information about the results of the different seasons of the project on the links below:
Technical report 2015 – 2016
The report reviews and analyses the results obtained during the seasons 2015 and 2016, comparing them to the results of the seasons 2013 and 2014 and analysing the project as a whole.