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World experts gather in Azores to discuss ‘whale strikes’

Increasing maritime traffic causes significant number of collisions with large whales

World experts will be meeting next week in Faial, Azores, to discuss the problem of whale collisions caused by large ships, which often result in serious injury or death of the animal, reports Lusa today.

The Sea Sciences Research Institute (OKEANOS) of Azores University – partner of the ‘OCEAN’ project and organiser of this two-day workshop with the cooperation of the Azores Sea School – has announced in a statement that the workshop will bring together world experts in mitigating ship collisions with large whales; noting that “since the 1980s the number of incidents has increased significantly”.

The ‘OCEAN’ project has developed from a consortium of 13 partners from seven European countries to “create tools and procedures to reduce the frequency and severity of maritime accidents, including collisions with large whales”, says the statement.

OKEANOS researcher, Rui Prieto, explains that “increasing maritime traffic is a threat to several species of marine animals”.

According to Prieto, these “serious injuries or mortality” caused by collisions “are recorded for more than 75 marine species”, and this problem is “especially worrying in relation to some species of large whales”.

The OCEAN (Operator-Centred Enhancement of Awareness in Navigation) project began in October 2022 and is co-funded under the EU’s Horizon Europe Research and Innovation fund.

Whale strikes are generally much less-publicised than the phenomenon of ‘overly inquisitive orcas’ that has been worrying small sailing boats along the Portuguese coast since 2020 (leading to the sinking of two vessels, with crew forced to evacuate).

Source: Lusa