To ensure the seas remain a haven for fish and mammals to feed and breed, it is important to cruise below 15 knots in marine sanctuaries and areas rich with wildlife.
“Scientific evidence proves that boats heavier than 80 tonnes, which go faster than 15 knots, pose a higher risk of collision to cetaceans (marine mammals),” says Sabina Airoldi, a marine biologist at the Tethys Research Institute – an Italian organization dedicated to oceanic conservation. “There is such a variety of species of wildlife in the Mediterranean Sea, and among them is the Fin Whale – the biggest animal in the world after the Blue Whale. Because of their large size Fin Whales and Sperm Whales find it hard to avoid fast moving boats, putting them at higher risk of collisions which can often be fatal.”
The institute’s work involves monitoring marine wildlife in the Pelagos Sanctuary, an 87,000 km² area in the Mediterranean Sea between Italy, Monaco and France. There are eight species of cetaceans in the Pelagos Sanctuary, with around 400 Fin Whales and approximately 38,000 Striped Dolphins. The institute tracks the mammals via satellites and studies the complex interplay of their behavior in relation to human activities. But there are around 9,000 boats in the Sanctuary’s waters every day, and approximately 22,000 ships of more than 100 tonnes in the Mediterranean as a whole, which leads to a congestion of space.
“We need to share this space,” says Airoldi. “It’s important that boaters cruise slowly to give cetaceans space to thrive, and to really take time to enjoy what they see around them.”
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