[MARMAM] new publication - sperm whales entangled in a driftnet

Daniela Silvia Pace danielasilvia.pace at gmail.com
Tue Apr 21 09:06:14 PDT 2009

Dear MARMAM subscribers,

my colleagues and I are pleased to report that the following paper has
been recently published:

Pace D.S., Miragliuolo A., Mussi B. (2008). Behaviour of a social unit
of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) entangled in a driftnet off
Capo Palinuro (Southern Tyrrhenian Sea, Italy). J. Cetacean Res.
Manage. 10(2): 131–135.

Driftnet fishing is notorious for being the major source of fatal
entanglement of cetaceans and for its devastating impact on some
pelagic species of the Mediterranean fauna. Of all the large
cetaceans, the sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) is most affected
by this fishing technique. On 9 August 2004, a group of five sperm
whales, two adult females and three juvenile individuals, was found
trapped in a driftnet 40 miles southwest off Capo Palinuro (Italy).
Their tails were totally immobilised by the net and one animal was
completely entangled. All the animals showed numerous lesions on their
bodies. The group was freed by the Italian Coast Guard scuba-diving
team during a two-day rescue operation.
This exceptional case of sperm whale disentanglement was a unique
opportunity to study the group’s acoustic and general behavior during
a particularly stressful event. Out of a total video/acoustic
recording of 110 minutes, 91 were examined. During the rescue
procedures, the whales’ behaviour was described as open mouthed,
sideways roll, agitation of fluke and pectoral fins, head rubbing,
fluke contact (with head, flippers and back by the liberated animals)
and defecation. As expected, the entangled individuals produced
different patterns of clicks, identified as ‘usual clicks’, ‘codas’
and ‘creaks’. Each pattern was associated with specific behaviour.
Despite international and national regulation banning fishing with
driftnets in the Mediterranean Sea, driftnets continue to be used
illegally in this sperm whale habitat, posing a constant threat to the
species’ survival in the region.

Pdf copies are available upon request from me (see email information below).


Daniela Silvia Pace
danielasilvia.pace at gmail.com

Daniela Silvia Pace
Scientific Director
Systema Naturae - Biodiversity Foundation
Palazzina dell'Auditorio, Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei
Via della Lungara 229/230
00165 Rome Italy
Tel. +39 06 8746 5640
Fax +39 06 8746 5641
dspace at fondazionesystemanaturae.org

Via Gino Marinuzzi, 74
00124 Rome, Italy
tel & fax +390650910791

Mediterranean Dolphin Conservation
Ischia Island
Via Zaro 22, 80075 Forio (NA)
tel & fax +39081989578

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