The rare footage was released in an effort to raise public awareness of the need to protect these marine animals.
The action occurs when, after several hours of deep dives to feed, the sperm whale family reach the surface. The mother, two calves and several juveniles playful interact.
Arguments erupt, but the mother whale establishes order.
The Pelagos Cetacean Research Institute is a scientific non-profit organization aiming to the study and conservation of cetaceans. Cetaceans include whales, dolphins, porpoises and a few more related species.
Cetaceans have been an inspiration to people since the ancient times, when they were found to appear as a main theme on numerous wall paintings, urns, coins, jewelry etc. In fact, cetaceans have been part of the Greek civilization for over 3,500 years.
The word “cetacean” comes from the Greek word “Ketos” which means sea monster. Ketos in ancient Greek mythology was an ancient goddess and the daughter of Gaia (the earth) and of Pontos (the wave). The word is now used to refer to dolphins and whales.
Only about 250 sperm whales in Greece and the Med.
Pelagos has been studying the sperm whales in the seas of Greece -from Kefalonia to southern Crete and Rhodes- for the last 25 years and knows most of them one by one, thanks to the method of photo-identification.
The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales. It has a disproportionately large head and typically wrinkled skin.
Females and young males live together in groups, while mature males (bulls) live solitary lives outside of the mating season.
The females cooperate to protect and nurse their young. Females give birth every four to twenty years, and care for the calves for more than a decade.
In Greek waters they are mostly sighted over the continental slope, i.e. 5-10 nautical miles off the coast. They perform very long dives, up to 2 hours, and can easily be acoustically detected by means of a hydrophone.
Male sperm whales can reach 20 meters in length in the oceans and 15-16 meters in the Mediterranean and Greece.
However, scientists warn that sperm whales particularly in the Mediterranean are threatened by human activities.
Only about 200 live throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Most of them live in the Greek seas.
Entanglement in fishing nets and collisions with ships represent the greatest threats to the sperm whale population. Other threats include ingestion of marine debris, ocean noise, and chemical pollution.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) regards the sperm whale as being “vulnerable”. The species is listed as endangered on the United States Endangered Species Act