Four days ago a small number of people had the most amazing experience of their lifes off the coast of Long Beach, CA (USA). A pod of 16 sperm whales was travelling 12 nautical miles offshore in the waters of the Catalina Channel, between Catalina Island and the main coast.
Alisa Schulman-Janiger who heads up the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Cetacean Society‘s (ACS) Grey Whale Census and Behavior Project told that sperm whales are occasionally spotted solitary or in very small groups off the Southern California coast. She also said it had been at least three decades since volunteers on the peninsula in 1976 spotted a pod of three to six sperm whales, The most recent sighting dates back to December 10, 2005.
Sperm whales also occur in the Mediterranean Sea where it is one of eight cetacean species considered to be regular inhabitants. The Mediterranean sperm whale population, that is thought to have considerably declined, qualifies as Endangered in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Large pods of sperm whales are rare in the Mediterranean Basin and these kind of events can be counted on one’s fingers.
For more information on Mediterranean sperm whales see:
- Notarbartolo di Sciara G., Frantzis A., Bearzi G., Reeves R.R. 2006. Sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus), Mediterranean subpopulation. Pp. 48-56 in: R. Reeves and G. Notarbartolo di Sciara (compilers and editors). The status and distribution of cetaceans in the Black Sea and Mediterranean Sea. IUCN Centre for Mediterranean Cooperation, Malaga, Spain. 143 pp.
- Notarbartolo di Sciara G. & Birkun A. Jr. 2010. Conserving whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Mediterranean and Black Seas: an ACCOBAMS status report, 2010. ACCOBAMS, Monaco.