Two sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) sightings in Cyprus from social media

Two sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) sightings in Cyprus from social media

Robin Thomas Ernest Snape, Burak Ali Çiçek, Louis Hadjioannou, Ayaka Amaha Öztürk, Damla Beton

Centre for Ecology and Conservation, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Exeter, Penryn Campus, Cornwall, UNITED KINGDOM
SPOT – Society for Protection of Turtles, Levent Apt 2, Ulus sokak, Gönyeli, CYPRUS
Underwater Research and Imaging Centre, Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, CYPRUS
Biological Sciences Department, Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Eastern Mediterranean University, Famagusta, CYPRUS
Enalia Physis Environmental Research Centre, Acropoleos 2, Aglangia, 2101, Nicosia, CYPRUS
Turkish Marine Research Foundation (TUDAV), P.O.Box 10, Beykoz, Istanbul, TURKEY

ORCID IDs: R.T.E.S. 0000-0001-9204-2985; B.A.Ç. 0000-0001-6144-1721; L.H. 0000-0001-5864-5467; A.A.Ö. 0000-0003-2281-7372; D.B.  0000-0002-6305-7667


We report on two sightings of sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus) off eastern Cyprus, in the Eastern Mediterranean, reported through social media. The records are of relevance because there is a paucity of information for this endangered population in Cyprus waters, these being the first published direct observations. One is of a solitary male and another of a social unit. Human threats to the species such as anthropogenic noise and plastic debris are significant and growing. Long-term systematic surveys are called for, to better understand the ecology of the species in Cyprus waters, while opportunities for better reporting of deep-diving cetaceans are discussed. Marine development and resource exploitation projects must be appropriately assessed and their impacts on deep diving cetaceans mitigated.

Keywords: Cetacean, marine mammal, sperm whale, Cyprus, citizen science, fisher, Physeter macrocephalus

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