[MARMAM] Sperm whale ship-strikes along the Hellenic Trench, Greece: Can we reduce collision risks?

Alexandros Frantzis afrantzis at otenet.gr
Thu Feb 28 04:46:35 PST 2019

Dear Marmam and ECS members,

(sorry for cross-postings!)

My co-authors and I are pleased to share with you our recent publication 
in PLoS ONE:

*Frantzis A, Leaper R, Alexiadou P, Prospathopoulos A, Lekkas D (2019) 
Shipping routes through core habitat of endangered sperm whales along 
the Hellenic Trench, Greece: Can we reduce collision risks? PLoS ONE 
14(2): e0212016.*


The Mediterranean sperm whale population is listed as ‘Endangered”. The 
Hellenic Trench is the core habitat of the eastern Mediterranean sperm 
whale sub-population that numbers two to three hundred individuals. 
Major shipping routes running on or very close to the 1000 m depth 
contour along the Hellenic Trench are causing an unsustainable number of 
ship-strikes with sperm whales reviewed in this paper. Sperm whale 
sighting and density data were combined with specific information on the 
vessel traffic in the area (e.g., types of vessels, traffic patterns, 
speed and traffic density), in order to estimate the risk of a 
whale/ship interaction. Routing options to significantly reduce ship 
strike risk by a small offshore shift in shipping routes were 
identified. The overall collision risk for sperm whales in the study 
area would be reduced by around 70%, while a maximum of 11 nautical 
miles would be added to major routes and only around 5 nautical miles 
for the majority of ships. No negative impacts were associated with 
re-routing by shipping away from sperm whale habitat and there would be 
additional shipping safety and environmental benefits. A significant 
contribution to the overall conservation status of the marine Natura2000 
sites in the area and very important population units of threatened 
species such as Cuvier’s beaked whales, monk seals and loggerhead 
turtles would be achieved, by the reduction of shipping noise and 
reduced risk of any oil spills reaching the coasts, which are also 
important touristic destinations in Greece.

This is an *Open Access* paper, which is *freely available online* from 
the link below:


If you have any problem with the above link, please feel free to contact 
me directly for a PDF copy at afrantzis at otenet.gr

Best wishes,



Dr. Alexandros Frantzis
Scientific director
Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute
Terpsichoris 21
16671 Vouliagmeni,
Tel.: +30-210-8960108
e-mail: afrantzis at otenet.gr
website: http://www.pelagosinstitute.gr

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