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Whales and dolphins strongly present in Maltese waters

Whales and dolphins strongly present in Maltese waters

This is great news for all you dolphin and whale lovers out there! The Environment and Resources Authority (ERA) has confirmed the presence of a large number of whales and dolphins around the Maltese coast.

The research forms part of Malta’s Assessment of Marine Waters, with the latest results showing how four whale species and four dolphin species were reported from Malta in the most recent surveys.

The whale species include the Sperm Whale, the largest-toothed predator in the sea, the Fin Whale, Cuvier’s Beaked Whale and Long-Finned Pilot Whale. On the dolphin side, we have Risso’s Dolphin, the Common Dolphin, Striped Dolphin and Bottlenose Dolphin, all of which were sighted in Maltese waters.

Sperm Whale

Fin Whale

Cuvier's Beaked Whale

Long-finned Pilot Whale

Risso's Dolphin

Common Dolphin

Striped Dolphin

Bottlenose Dolphin

Most of the mentioned species are not often seen by the public, but this is most likely due to their migratory nature and presence in deeper water, said the ERA. This doesn’t mean that sightings don’t happen, though! The Common, Striped and Bottlenose Dolphin are the most frequently recorded all year round, commonly encountered by boaters.

In terms of by-catch, abundance and distribution, the populations of the three dolphins appear to be stable, according to the ERA. That being said, longer-term monitoring is still required. The Authority is looking into such issues while also undergoing further monitoring studies. Part of this will include the establishment and pilot implementation of a long-term strategy for marine mammals in Maltese waters, with funds received from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

ERA said that it is working to address underwater noise and litter, in line with the ACCOBAMS treaty, which are two major pressures on both whales and dolphins.

What is the ACCOBAMS treaty?

ACCOBAMS refers to the Agreement of the Conservation of Cetaceans of the Black Sea, Mediterranean Sea and contiguous Atlantic area. It is a legal conservation tool based on cooperation and its purpose is to reduce threats to cetaceans, notably improving current knowledge on the animals.

As of 2018, the ACCOBAMS agreement has 24 parties including: Albania, Algeria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, France, Georgia, Greece, Italy, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro, Morocco, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Spain, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Ukraine.