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Greek institute’s drone footage shows sperm whale family interactions

Drone footage following a pod of rare Mediterranean sperm whales in the Ionian Sea has been released on the internet by the Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute of Greece.

The not-for-profit scientific organisation which monitors cetaceans such as whales, dolphins, porpoises released the footage of a pod (family) of sperm whales on the internet to raise public awareness over the need to protect the marine animals.

The footage shows a family (pod) of sperm whales interacting on the surface after they have spent several hours in deep dives for food in the Hellenic Trench, the deepest area in the Mediterranean (5,267m below sea level at its deepest point). The Trench is considered a core habitat for deep-diving marine mammal species – particularly sperm whales.

The pod in the footage shows the mother with two young calves and several unruly juveniles. As the older juveniles become a bit too boisterous, the mother shows her displeasure by shoving the one young male out of her way. The male responds with a tantrum by whacking the water with his tail seven times. The mother’s display soon restores order in the pod.

The adult Mediterranean sperm whale at 16 metres long is about 4m shorter than its cousins living in the open oceans of the world. There are about 200 sperm whales in the Eastern Mediterranean most of which are concentrated in Greek waters.

READ MORE: Greek researchers to conduct research into potential of invasive fish species

The Pelagos institute has been monitoring sperm whales from Kefalonia to southern Crete and Rhodes for the last 25 years. The whales are usually sighted over the continental slope about five to 10 nautical miles off the coast.

The species are considered to be vulnerable to human activities – particularly from being entangled in fishing nets or colliding with ships. Ingesting marine debris/litter, chemical pollution and ocean noise also pose a threat to the whales.

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