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<p>We apologize for cross-postings to the ECS and Marmam lists.
<p>Some decades ago the harbour porpoise was considered as extinct species
in the Mediterranean Sea. Since 1997 ten strandings (two live) have been
recorded in a limited area of the North Aegean Sea and particularly in
its north-eastern part (Thracian Sea). Six skin samples that were analysed
so far for mtDNA showed the relatedness of the Aegean porpoises with the
Black Sea population, but do not exclude and actually indicate an isolation
from it. In addition, the recorded strandings occurred all year round and
included all age classes also indicating that the Aegean harbour porpoises
are likely to belong to a very small resident population. The analysis
of 6 more samples is still pending.
<p>During the last 1.5 year three more specimens were found stranded (one
along the Turkish coasts of the Aegean Sea). Surprisingly, one after the
other these last strandings were significantly expanding the known range
of the subspecies (<i>P. phocoena relicta</i>) further south, at both the
west and east coasts of the Aegean Sea. One week ago on Sunday 9 March
2008 the last stranding was recorded in the suburbs of Athens (Vouliagmeni),
some 250 nautical miles southern than the northern Aegean and Thracian
Seas. There is no easy explanation of this sudden appearance of harbour
porpoises in southern and hotter seas. A relative note including necropsy
results and an update on the Aegean harbour porpoises is being prepared.
<p>The harbour porpoise is rare in the Aegean Sea and both the Aegean and
Black Sea sub-populations have been proposed to be listed as "Endangered"
by a joint ACCOBAMS-IUCN workshop in 2006.
<p><b>Relative downloadable references:</b>
<br>The first five of the following papers can be downloaded through the
<p><font size=-1>Frantzis A., Gordon J., Hassidis G., Komnenou A., 2001.
The enigma of harbor porpoise presence in the Mediterranean Sea. Marine
Mammal Science 17 (4): 937-944.</font>
<p><font size=-1>Rosel P.E., Frantzis A., Lockyer C., Komnenou A., 2003.
The Source of Aegean Sea harbour porpoises. Marine Ecology Progress Series
<p><font size=-1>Frantzis A., Alexiadou P., Paximadis G., Politi E., Gannier
A., Corsini-Foka M., 2003. Current knowledge of the cetacean fauna of the
Greek Seas. The Journal of Cetacean Research Management. 5(3): 219-232.</font>
<p><font size=-1>Birkun A.Jr. and Frantzis A. 2006. Harbour porpoise <i>Phocoena
phocoena relicta</i> (Black Sea subspecies). Pp 39-47 in Reeves R., Notarbartolo
di Sciara G. (compilers and editors). The status and distribution of cetaceans
in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation,
Malaga, Spain. 137 pp.</font>
<p><font size=-1>Viaud-Martinnez K.A., Martinnez Vergara M., Gol'din P.E.,
Ridoux V., Ozturk A.A., Ozturk B., Rosel P.E., Frantzis A., Komnenou A.,
Bohonak A.J., 2007. Morphological and genetic differentiation of the Black
Sea harbour porpoise <i>Phocoena phocoena</i>. Mar. Ecol. Prog. Ser. 338:
<p><font size=-1>H. Guclusoy H., 2007. The first confirmed report of the
harbour porpoise (<i>Phocoena phoceana</i>) in the Turkish Aegean Sea.
JMBA2 - Biodiversity Records. 2 pp.</font>
<p>Dr. Alexandros Frantzis
<br>Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute
<br>website: <a href="http://www.pelagosinstitute.gr">http://www.pelagosinstitute.gr</a>