[MARMAM] Humpback whale in the south of Italy

Simone Panigada simo.pani at inwind.it
Wed Mar 13 10:02:39 PDT 2013

Dear colleagues,

I would like to report an unusual sighting of 
humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the 
waters of Lampedusa Island, south of Sicily.

This area is known to host visiting fin whales 
every late winter - early spring, who surface 
feed on the very abundant euphausiid, Nyctiphanes 
couchii, as reported by Canese and colleagues a few years ago.


Yesterday, while looking for fin whales, we saw a 
young humpback whale, approx. 8-9-meters long, 20 
km south east of the Island. The whale appeared 
to be swimming in a relaxed way and we recorded 
several episodes of surface feeding. We followed 
the whales for an hour and a half, while slowly 
moving towards the west. After talking with the 
personnel of the local Marine Protected Area 
Isole Pelagie and the fishermen, no other records 
of such species have been reported around the island.

Humpback whales have been reported 10 times since 
2009 in the Mediterranean Sea, including this 
sighting, 2 strandings and 8 sightings at sea 
(Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, pers. comm.).

The animal has been photo-identified and we would 
be happy to compare id pictures with those from 
the other sightings in the Mediterranean Sea (or even beyond if appropriate).

This project - funded by the Italian Ministry of 
the Environment - is a collaboration between the 
International Whaling Commission and the Tethys 
Research Institute, with the support of the 
Società Cooperativa Sesto Continente, working for the MPA Isole Pelagie.

With my best regards from a very windy Lampedusa,

Simone Panigada

Tethys Research Institute
Viale G.B. Gadio 2, 20121 Milano, Italy
tel. +39 0272001947 / 0272013943
fax +39 0286995011
<mailto:tethys at tethys.org>tethys at tethys.org
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