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Dead sperm whale in The Wash, East Anglia, England. © CSIP-ZSL.

What have dead whales ever done for us?

When dead whales wash up on dry land they provide a vital food source for...
Risso's dolphin © Andy Knight

We’re getting to know Risso’s dolphins in Scotland so we can protect them

Citizen scientists in Scotland are helping us better understand Risso's dolphins by sending us their...
Pilot whales pooing © Christopher Swann

Talking crap and carcasses to protect our planet

We know we need to save the whale to save the world because they are...
Fin whales are targeted by Icelandic whalers

Speaking truth to power – my week giving whales a voice

The International Whaling Commission (IWC) meeting is where governments come together to make decisions about whaling...

Why do whales and dolphins strand on beaches?

People often ask me 'why' whales and dolphins do one thing or another.  I'm a...
A spinner dolphin leaping © Andrew Sutton/Eco2

Head in a spin – my incredible spinner dolphin encounter

Sri Lanka is home to at least 30 species of whales and dolphins, from the...
Sperm whale (physeter macrocephalus) Gulf of California. The tail of a sperm whale.

To protect whales, we must stop ignoring the high seas

Almost two-thirds of the ocean, or 95% of the habitable space on Earth, are sloshing...
WDC team at UN Ocean conference

Give the ocean a chance – our message from the UN Ocean Conference

I'm looking out over the River Tejo in Lisbon, Portugal, reflecting on the astounding resilience...

Harbour porpoises on the move, or just especially elusive?

The past few months have been significant for rare sightings of some species of whales and dolphins (north Pacific right whales off the west coast of the US, a grey whale in Namibia – the first ever sighting of the species in the southern hemisphere, and common dolphins in the Mediterranean Sea) – now however it’s the turn of their smaller cousin, the harbour porpoise.

Researchers surveying in the northern Aegean Sea (which lies between Greece and Turkey – see map) have sighted what they believe to be the the first confirmed sightings of live harbour porpoises in Aegean waters since 1997.

Thought to be extinct in the Mediterranean since the 19th century, there have only been two live sightings of this species in the area (one group in 1993 and one lone individual in 1997) and further documentation of several dead stranded animals on Greek and Turkish coasts each year. The researchers were treated to sightings of four groups of porpoises – and perhaps many more recored on their underwater acoustic equipment – a first for Turkish Aegean waters and the first in over 16 years in the Mediterranean.

There is some speculation that these animals are actually part of the endangered and genetically distinct sub-species of Black Sea harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena relicta) and have travelled to the Aegean from the Black Sea. However, there is still the possibility that a Mediterranean sub-population exists. 

If one thing is for sure, whales, dolphins and porpoises continue to surprise us!