Sperm whale: new individuals in the waters of Ischia

An important result characterized the 2014 field season of Ischia Dolphin Project (IDP): 6 new sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) have been recognized and included in the photo-identification catalogue of known individuals around Ischia and Ventotene Islands.

news01 capodoglio 

We decided to give them special names, dedicated to the music: Aretha, Elvis, BeeGees, Nirvana, Moondog e Queen, these are the ‘new entries’ of the catalogue, today including 77 different animals (2003-2014 period).

The reason why sperm whales are frequently sighted in the area is its peculiarity: the bottom depth is characterized by the presence of a submarine canyon system (called ‘Cuma’s Canyon), which enhance the local primary productivity and determine suitable feeding conditions for the species.

Thanks to the frequent recordings of sounds called creaks, we were able to assess that sperm whales feeding in the area, hunting their favorite preys (squids).

The vocalizations of the sperm whale are made by very brief impulsive sounds, called clicks, organized in variable length sequences and produced by the animals during the dives (that last on average 30-50 minutes), when principal activity is the hunting and the recognition of the environment, or at surface during socialization activities. Creaks are an accelerated sequence of clicks used by the animal to target a possible prey acoustically (echolocation run).