Sperm Whale Workshop

1° International Workshop:

" Ecology, Behaviour and Conservation of the sperm whale in the Mediterranean "

Ischia Island, Italy, November 17th and 18th,  2011




The sperm whale is one of the eight regular species of cetaceans in the Mediterranean sea. Sometime ago it was considered in abundance in some parts of the basin, but today groups of sperm whale are very rare.  There is no estimate of the Mediterranean population, however the total number of individuals is more around hundreds rather than thousands. There is no precise information on the movements and migrations of these animals in the basin. Knowledge about the reproductive behavior and ecology of sperm whales in the Mediterranean are fragmentary.

The Mediterranean subpopulation of sperm whale has been proposed to be listed as endangered species following the criterion C2a (ii) which refers to "an estimated population size of below 2,500 mature individuals and also a continuous decline, observed, estimated or inferred in numbers of mature individuals in at least the 95% of adults in a subpopulation (IUCN/ACCOBAMS Workshop on the Red List Assessment of Cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS Area -­Monaco, 5-­7 Marzo 2006).

The lack of knowledge on the status of the population and ecology of the species, together with the alleged decline in numbers require greater efforts to share data and information on Mediterranean sperm whale in order to achieve a full scientific base dedicated to the knowledge and conservation of the species.


With the aim of promoting greater participation in international dialogue, the exchange of scientific knowledge (also unpublished) on the Mediterranean sperm whale and to strengthen the scientific and conservation efforts on species locally, nationally and internationally, the University of Genoa and Oceanomare Delphis Onlus with the collaboration of Menkab, organized the first workshop "Ecology, Behavior and Conservation of the sperm whale in the Mediterranean", which was held in Ischia on November 17th and 18th,  2011

The workshop focused on the current status of the sperm whale in the Mediterranean sea (distribution, use of  the habitat, ecology, behavior, etc) with the aim of:

• Share scientific information and methodologies among the different research groups;

• Find new mechanisms to enhance international cooperation for the conservation of sperm whales;

• Establish a platform for launching new scientific associations, activities or projects, with active participation of public organizations (universities) and private (non-profit).



Maurizio Wurtz, Uiversità di Genova

Daniela Silvia Pace, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus

Barbara Mussi, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus

Oceanomare Delphis Onlus

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Fax +39 06 50910791







Associazione Amici di Riccardo Domenici, OceanCare, Marco Castagna, Giuseppe Farace, Katia Massaro, Andrea e Kate Proto, Oceanomare Delphis Staff.





17 NOVEMBER  2011

14.00 Opening ceremony

Welcome from the Organizational Committee
Welcome from the Authorities

14.30 – 16.45

1a sessione: Conservation.
 Chairman: Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Tethys Research Institute

  • Biology and conservation status of sperm whale (Physeter catodon) in the Mediterranean Sea.
 Mehdi Aissi, University of Genoa
  • A multidisciplinary study on the reasons of a sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) mass stranding.
 Sandro Mazzariol, University of Padua
  • Ecotoxicological status of seven sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) stranded along the Adriatic coast of Southern Italy.
 Silvia Maltese and Letizia Marsili, University of Siena
  • Driftnetting effects on sperm whale: a Mediterranean challenge.
 Daniela Silvia Pace and Barbara Mussi, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus
  • Critical habitat for sperm whales in the Southwest Mediterreanean Sea
. Renaud de Stefanis, Estacion Biologica de Donana CSIC

 16.45 – 17.15

Coffee break

17.15 – 19.15

2a sessione: Acoustics as a tool to study sperm whale’s ecology and behaviour. Chairman: Jonathan Gordon, University of St Andrews

  • Sperm whale biosonar: searching for prey.
 Walter Zimmer, NURC NATO
  • Abundance estimates for sperm whales in the Mediterranean Sea from passive acoustic line-transect surveys.
Tim Lewis and Anna Moscrop, IFAW
  • Whale gates: the importance of permanent submarine observatories for monitoring sperm whale population structure and trends.
Francesca Zardin, CIBRA, University of Pavia



18 NOVEMBER 2011

09.00 – 11.00

3a sessione: Ecology and Behaviour
. Chairman: Luke Rendell, University of St Andrews

  • Geostatistical modelling of spatial distribution of sperm whale (Physeter catodon) in the Pelagos sanctuary from sparse count data and heterogeneous observation efforts.
 Cristina Fiori, University of Genoa
  • The seasonal status of sperm whale in the Ligurian Sea: changing paradigm implies a better conservation management. 
Alexandre Gannier, Groupe de Recherche sur les Cétacés
  • Mediterranean sperm whale photo-identification: geographic difference in marks prevalence. 
Jessica Alessi, University of Genoa

 11.00 – 11.30

Coffee break

11.30 – 13.30

4a sessione: Ecology and Behaviour
Chairman: Alexandre Gannier, Groupe de Recherche sur les Cétacés

  • Sperm whales around the Balearic Islands. 
Luke Rendell, University of St Andrews
  • Sperm whale occurrence and distribution around Ischia Island.
 Barbara Mussi and Daniela Silvia Pace, Oceanomare Delphis Onlus
  • Sperm whale occurrence, site fidelity and population structure along the Hellenic Trench (Greece, Mediterranean Sea). 
Alexandros Frantzis, Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute
  • Passive Acoustic Monitoring: tools for sperm whale research and conservation. 
Jonathan Gordon, University of St Andrews

 13.30 – 14.30


14.30 – 17.30

General discussion
. Chairman: Maurizio Wurtz, University of Genoa

17.30 – 18.30

Video session