In the Mediterranean Sea, 8 species of cetaceans are regularly present, four are “occasional” and seven are “rare”. The eight commonest species are fin whale (Balaenoptera physalus), sperm whale (Physeter catodon), Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus), bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), striped dolphin (Stenella coeruleoalba), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), pilot whale (Globicephala melas), and Cuvier's beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris). Strandings highlight also the presence of the less common cetaceans such as the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) or the false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens). Killer whales (Orcinus orca) are usually present just in the Strait of Gibraltar.
Where to sight the different cetaceans species depends on their ecology and behaviour. Some species are easier to observe, some are more difficult, such as the pelagic ones, that live offshore. Before going out at sea you can't know in advance which species you are going to meet. You may have a rough idea, according to the monitored area characteristics and the surveyed environment. Anyhow cetaceans are not easy to find, because they spend most of their life underwater, and often they emerge just with their blowhole and dorsal fin. If you aim to spot them at sea you really need to pay lots of attention to scan the horizon the whole time, better if from an elevated position. To increase the chance of sighting them you better use a 7X50 marine binocular. A greater enlargement, like the one employed in ornithology, is not suitable because of the boat's movements. Finally, in order to see cetaceans from distance, you should always get out at sea in good weather conditions, with wind lower than 3 Beaufort.
Once you sight from distance something interesting you need to verify that it is a cetacean and not a flying fish, a jumping tuna or swordfish, or a shark swimming close to the surface. Then you may want to identify the species. Usually, the time you have to do so is a really short one. To increase your ability in cetaceans identification you should study in advance species size, shape, colouration patterns and profiles.
Download our manual to discover the wonderful world of cetaceans.
The sea always fascinated human beings, barriers or ways of communication, land of richness or devastating force of nature. From ancient times humans sailed across the sea and exploited its resources. Navigation and fishery are activities that bond humans to the sea since ancient times, but pleasure boating started developing mostly at the end of the last century. The rapid expansion of this human activity fastly leaded to habitat degradation of many coastal areas. To reduce the impact of your boat while sailing or doing maintenance work, you can follow a few simple rules.
1. WASTE DISPOSAL AND MANAGEMENT: reduce your waste amount by avoiding single-use products, no matter the material they are made of; once at land, recycle what you collected during navigation; don't throw anything at sea, neither organic material.
2. PAY ATTENTION WHEN ANCHORING: avoid the Posidonia fields or other protected environments.
3. EMPLOY ORGANIC DETERGENT: both for personal use and for washing dishes, the boat, etc.
4. ENGINE: reduce engine employment, favouring sailing. Regularly check your engine to reduce oil leaking due to bad functioning.
5. BILGE CLEANING: never empty bilge at sea, collect bilge water and discharge them on special tanks while in a harbour/marina.
6. GREY/DARK WATERS: employ special tanks for grey/dark water collection, never discharge toilet paper into the toilet.
7. DISCOVER THE NATURAL ENVIRONMENT: take advantage of being at sea to discover the environment snorkelling or scuba diving.
8. MARINE PROTECTED AREA: study MPA rules before visiting them, to avoid inappropriate behaviours.
9. AVOID HUNTING AND FISHING: respect the creatures you meet.
10. RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE CULTURES AND HABITS.
Download our Sustainable Sailing decalogue.