Save Endangered Whales from Seismic Surveys in the Mediterranean

  • by: Judith B.
  • recipient: Ministry of the Environment, Energy and Climate Change, Greece

The Hellenic Trench in the Mediterranean has two resident whale species – the iconic sperm whale and the elusive Cuvier’s beaked whale. Both populations are endangered and already struggling to cope with threats ranging from pollution to climate change.

Unfortunately for them, there might be substantial oil and gas reserves in the Hellenic Trench and very noisy exploratory seismic surveys have already begun. The plans are for the surveys to cover a vast area and no environmental impact assessment has been done.

The noise produced could seriously threaten the whales. Noise pollution is not a trivial matter in the ocean, especially if you are a whale. It can disorientate and kill, directly or by causing mass strandings.

Tell the Greek government to insist that companies conduct proper environmental impact assessments before continuing the surveys and to take the utmost care not to put the lives of whales at risk when they continue.

We the undersigned ask that you immediately halt the seismic surveys that have begun in the Hellenic trench and not allow them to continue until full environmental impact assessments have been carried out.  When and if they restart, please ensure that a sufficient number of properly trained observers/advisers are present on each vessel.

The noise from such surveys poses a serious risk to the two endangered whale populations that inhabit the trench. Both the Cuvier’s beaked whale (Ziphius cavirostris) and the Mediterranean sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) are already under threat. Any seismic surveys, or other human activity, in their habitat must be carried out with the utmost care to avoid causing more damage.

A lax attitude towards marine conservation is insupportable and we ask that you insist that any companies wishing to explore the trench do so with the highest levels of care.

Thank you for your attention.

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