Featured Image Credit: Julie E. Steelman
By Jessica Kittel
Cetaceans (the fancy word that encompasses all whales and dolphins) are no strangers to the Mediterranean. Even the most ancient civilizations (cough, cough, ancient Greeks) had depictions of these charismatic marine mammals. The science of cetology was even founded in the Mediterranean by the aforementioned ancient Greeks. The earliest recorded scientific report about cetaceans was produced courtesy of Aristotle in 350 BCE, according to sailingissues.com.
Depending on who you ask, the number of different cetacean species found around the world is anywhere from 78 to 83. In the ocean waters just off the coast of Turkey, 11 different species of cetaceans can be found. According to tudav.org, these include the Fin whale, Sperm whale, Cuvier’s beaked whale, Long-finned whale, False killer whale, Grampus, Bottlenose dolphin, Striped dolphin, Common dolphin, and Harbor porpoise.
Thanks to the Rufford Foundation, the Underwater Research Association (SAD), and Vahit Alan (a marine biologist), a new preservation project has been initiated to protect the, albeit small-ish, population of cetaceans that are found on the Karataş coast in southern Turkey.
As reported in the Daily Sabah, the project hopes to raise awareness regarding cetacean populations in the eastern Mediterranean. Those involved also aim to identify all the marine mammals that reside along the Turkish coast. Once these animals have been identified, researchers and authorities will be able to take more substantial action against potential risks (including extinction).
The project is not exclusive to researchers but is also involving local youths and fishermen that work along the region’s coast. All those involved have received information regarding the project and how to inform the project team if they spot any whales or dolphins.