The center of public interest in the Mediterranean and beyond is the currently unsuccessful attempt to rescue second sperm whale that has become entangled in a drift net near the island of Salina in the archipelago of the Aeolian Islands within a month. The first animal named Spyke was spotted by volunteers from Filicudi Wildlife Conservation, our partner on LIFE Delfi project, on June 26 near Salina Island. The young male had a huge amount of drift net wrapped around his tail. After hours of effort, exhausted and tired, animal was rescued by Italian Coast Guard and local divers. During the entire rescue operation, three other sperm whales were waiting for the animal nearby, which joined them after it was released. The good news is that our colleagues from Filicudi Wildlife Conservation saw the released animal again a few days later.

Successful release of Spyke

Just twenty days after the first incident, on July 19, a sperm whale named Furia was spotted near the island again, completely wrapped in an illegal drift net. This time a 10 meter long young female had a net all over her body. The animal rescue was attempted by the port authority, the Coast Guard and local biologists and divers. For two days and nights, this incredibly persistent and self-sacrificing people tried to remove the deadly net from the body of tired, injured and frightened animal. During the first day, they managed to free her nets from most of her body. During the night, they placed illuminated signs on the net so that they could follow the animal and continue removing the net the next day. The floating nets are extremely strong and difficult to cut under the sea, especially when you have a huge animal in front of you that doesn’t fully understand that you’re trying to help it so it moves, dives and tries to escape. Unfortunately, on the evening of the second day, the entire tail of the animal was still wrapped in a huge amount of netting. During the night, the animal got lost and rescuers have been searching for it without success since. Unfortunately, the animal cannot get rid of this net on its own and will surely die if it is not found in time.

Attempted rescue of Furia

Il capodoglio nella rete??The sperm whale in the net

Objavljuje Carmelo Isgrò u Subota, 18. srpnja 2020.

Attempted rescue of Furia, FB page of Carmelo Isgro

In the area of Gibraltar, a sperm whale called Toño was spotted on June 10 also entangled with its whole body in a drift net. The net is also wrapped in the mouth, and a large part of the net the animal is dragging behind. Unfortunately, rescuers have not been able to untangle this animal so far because the animal dived deep and could no longer be found due to bad weather. The fate of this sperm whale is also sealed if the rescuers do not find it soon and do not remove the nets.

Video of Toño in the Gibraltar area

What are “the walls of death”?

Until 2002, fishing in the Mediterranean Sea was allowed using large mesh drift nets floating near the sea surface. The target species of these nets were swordfish and tuna, fish species that swim in the upper part of the sea column. Drift nets were sometimes as long as 20 km, and they accidentally caught a large number of other, endangered and protected species. It is estimated that about 10,000 dolphins and whales, as well as countless sea turtles, sharks, seabirds and other fish, were accidentally caught in drift nets in the Mediterranean Sea every year. Due to such a dramatic impact on the entire marine environment and species, these “walls of death” have been banned for use in EU waters since 2002, regardless of their size. Unfortunately, the south of Italy and Spain are still areas of illegal fishing by drift nets. The combination of the lack of will of the authorities to implement the ban and corruption has resulted in the continued use of these illegal fishing tools to the detriment of all Mediterranean countries, and in particular the highly endangered marine species. It is time to put an end to illegal fishing and the destruction of the remaining living world of the sea and ocean!