WWF France's Cap Cetacean mission, Pelagos Sanctuary, Mediterranean Sea.

Despite its relatively small size ( 0,8% of the ocean’s global surface), the Mediterranean sea offers a unique concentration of large cetaceans. Among them are the fin whale, classified as a « vulnerable » species, the sperm whale and here, the pilot whale.
In this photograph, I captured a moment in the life of pilot whale.

Their population is estimated at 3,000 to 10,000 individuals in the Mediterranean (broad estimation). The pilot whales can mesure up to 6m and weigh around 3 tones, making them one of the biggest delphinids.
Extremely socials, these large marine mammals lives in tribes, sometimes reaching over 100 individuals ! These powerful bonds are unfortunatly at the origin of the spectacular strandings that can sometimes be seen on the Australian coast or on our Atlantic coast. They are very present in summer in the Mediterranean, and it is not uncommon to see them playing at the bow of sailboats, breaking speed records before returning to their hunting, socializing or simply napping activities !

 

In 1999, faced with the dangers that have been threatened these mammals for decades (pollutions, noises, captures and accidentals injuries caused by humans), Italy, France and the Principality of Monaco agreed to create a marine area dedicated to the protection of large cetaceans : the Pelagos Sanctuary. This region of the Mediterranean sea is not randomly chosen; this sanctuary is home for an incredible biodiversity and an astonishing concentration of large mammals. The WWF, which has been present since the creation of the Pelagos sanctuary, has set up study programmes, such as the Cap Cetaceans missions. All these operations allow them to better understand the behavior of these giant mammals and the threats to their already fragile populations.

I have been lucky enough to participate in several of these missions, witnessing the evolution of our Ocean and the work that these teams of scientists do.