Friday, December 8

An oceanographic vessel and eight small planes will tour the Atlantic waters of Europe to census whales and dolphins

An oceanographic vessel and eight small planes will simultaneously cover the Atlantic waters of all of Europe to estimate the abundance of cetaceans. This campaign is part of an international initiative involving more than 80 scientists from Spain, France, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, including some belonging to the centers of the Spanish Institute of Oceanography from Vigo, Murcia and the Canary Islands, reports Europa Press.

A specimen of sunray shark appears in the Arousa estuary, a species that had never been detected in Galicia

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During the month of July, the European initiative SCANS-IV will take place, a project with which it is intended to estimate the abundance of cetaceans in the Atlantic waters of all of Europe simultaneously through observation from oceanographic vessels and light aircraft, an initiative that is repeated for the fourth time, in which nine countries participate and which in Spain is led by the Spanish Institute of Oceanography (IEO, CSIC).

As reported by the IEO, from last Sunday the 3rd to July 31st, the ‘SCANS-IV’ campaign will take place, a study of the distribution and abundance of cetaceans in Atlantic waters throughout Europe that will be repeated for the fourth time after those carried out in 1994, the period 2005-2007 and 2016. For this, “a simultaneous sampling will be carried out in all European waters, through a zigzag route during which a team of more than 80 scientists will look for evidence of the presence of whales, dolphins and porpoises through visual and acoustic sightings”, explained the participants.

In addition, water samples will be taken to determine if it is possible to detect the presence of cetaceans through DNA analysis in seawater and use drones to record and calibrate these analyses. In Spain, the oceanic waters of the Bay of Biscay and to the west of the Galician platform will be traveled aboard the oceanographic vessel ‘Ramón Margalef’ for almost 30 days of navigation. The most coastal Spanish waters will be sampled by light aircraft flights.

This campaign, framed within the marine mammal monitoring programs designed under the Framework Directive for Marine Strategies, will make it possible to determine if there have been changes in the distribution and abundance of the different species of cetaceans over the last few decades in the Atlantic European. “The information obtained from this type of campaign is essential to inform the management measures that ensure the conservation of these species throughout the European Atlantic,” said Camilo Saavedra, researcher at the Vigo Oceanographic Center and coordinator of the marine mammals team and ecosystems of the IEO.